Duterte killed justice official, says hitman

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte leaves the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane. File photo  Picture: JORGE SILVA / REUTERS
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte leaves the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane. File photo

Former death squad member lifts lid on allegations against president

shot dead a justice department employee and ordered the murder of opponents, a former death squad member told parliament yesterday‚ in explosive allegations against the Philippine president.

The assassin told a senate hearing that he and a group of police officers and former communist rebels had killed about1 000 people over 25 years on Duterte’s orders – one of them being fed alive to a crocodile.

Many of the others were garroted‚ burnt ‚ quartered and then buried at a quarry owned by a police officer who was a member of the death squad.

Others were dumped at sea to be eaten by fish. Edgar Matobato made the allegations before the senate‚ which is investigating alleged extra judicial killings in Duterte’s anti-crime crack down that police say has left 3 140people dead in his first 72 days in office.

The then head of the Commission on Human Rights‚ senator Leila de Lima‚ told the inquiry Matobato had surrendered to the investigatory body in 2009and had until recently been in a witness protection scheme.

Duterte’s spokesman, Martin Andanar, said the allegations had already been investigated without charges being filed‚ while his son‚ Paolo Duterte‚ called the testimony “mere hear say of a madman”.

Matobato said that in 1993‚ he and other death squad members had approached a Davao road blocked by the vehicle of an agent from the justice department’s National Bureau of Investigation.

A confrontation led to as hoot out that left the agent wounded and out of bullets.

Duterte‚ the Davao mayor at the time‚ then arrived on the scene‚ Matobato said.

“[He] finished him off. He emptied two Uzi [sub machine gun] magazines on him.”

He said the death squad had received orders either directly from Duterte or from active-duty Davao police officers assigned to the mayor’s office.

Matobato’s testimony fleshed out in gruesome detail for the first time long-running allegations that Duterte was behind a death squad that killed more than 1 000 people in Davao‚ where he was mayor for most of the past two decades.

“Our job was to kill criminals‚ rapists‚ pushers and snatchers. We killed people almost on a daily basis‚”Matobato said.

He said the death squad had killed mainly criminal suspects and personal enemies of the Duterte family between 1988and 2013.

Another spokesman for Duterte‚ Ernesto Abella‚ said the allegations needed to be properly scrutinised.

Matobato said the death squad had tortured him when he asked to leave the group, prompting him to surrender to the justice department’s witness protection programme.

However‚ he said he had left the programme and gone into hiding when Duterte won the presidency in May.

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