Confessed ‘DDS’ hitman faces Senate probe anew

Bea Cupin

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Confessed ‘DDS’ hitman faces Senate probe anew

LeAnne Jazul

Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed hitman of the 'Davao Death Squad,' appears before the Senate committee on justice and human rights now chaired by Senator Richard Gordon

MANILA, Philippines – After a lengthy discussion, self-confessed “Davao Death Squad” hitman Edgar Matobato was allowed to testify during the Senate committee on justice and human rights’ fourth hearing into the apparent rise of deaths linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs.”

On Thursday, September 22, Matobato faced the Senate plenary once again, to testify on the existence of the supposed vigilante group in the city and Duterte’s alleged ties to the group.

The Thursday hearing is the first since Senator Leila de Lima was ousted from her post as committee chairperson, days after Matobato was first brought in to testify. Matobato was a surprise witness on September 15, during the third committee hearing.

De Lima was ousted as chairperson supposedly because she was “biased” and prejudiced in heading the hearing. De Lima is among Duterte’s most vocal critics in government.

In a discussion at the Senate session, De Lima explained that “someone” called her in August this year to say that Matobato, who was once part of the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP), wanted to surface and go public with his supposed knowledge on the death squad. 

Matobato said he fled Davao City late 2014, supposedly because the DDS wanted him killed. The self-confessed hitman said he was wrongfully tagged as the killer of Cebuano businessman Richard King. He claimed he was tortured by his former colleagues in Davao City.

Matobato said he eventually went to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) before he was eventually admitted to the WPP. He left the WPP in May 2016, however, days before the May 9 presidential elections.

Duterte and his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, have dismissed Matobato’s claims against them. (READ: TIMELINE: Witness lists killings allegedly ‘ordered by Duterte’–

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.