Sept. 15 (EIRNS)–The woman leading the Philippine Senate inquiry into alleged extra-judicial killings in President Duterte’s War on Drugs, Leila de Lima, the former Justice Secretary under Aquino and former chairwoman of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, brought out a witness today, Edgar Matobato, who testified that he was part of the 300-member “Davao Death Squad” which he alleges was run on the orders of then Mayor of Davao, Duterte. The Inquirer reports that Matobato testified the death squad killed alleged drug dealers and criminals in the southern city of Davao between 1988 and 2013. More than 1,000 were killed in Davao City alone, he claimed.
Leila de Lima has been going after Duterte for many years, running a massive investigation into what she called criminal activity in Duterte’s cleaning out drugs and crime in Davao City, which everyone admits was successful. In all the investigations, de Lima came up with nothing, and never was able to prosecute anything. Matobato, it turns out, turned against Duterte in 2013 and was placed in a witness protection program by de Lima by at least 2014, meaning de Lima had access to all this testimony long ago, but never brought it forward — probably because there was no evidence and many people call Matobato a liar, who perhaps could be called the Philippines’s “Curve Ball.”
Many people have come forward today to denounce the witness as a liar. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who supports the President, clashed with the witness and de Lima in the hearing, questioning Matobato’s credibility and accused him of being part of a plot to overthrow the president. “I’m asking about you (de Lima), your motive and the motive of your party in this hearing because I am testing if he’s a credible witness or if this is part of the plan B of the Liberal Party to grab Malacañang [presidential palace] and to destroy him (Duterte)” he said.
Duterte included de Lima on his list of officials with drug connections, saying that her driver was a drug courier (as well as her lover). He announced today that he has an updated list of about 1000 officials — judges, police, military, mayors, etc — who are involved in the drug trade, which he will release soon.
Ernesto Abella, a presidential spokesman, said the hearing was a rehash of issues that have already been addressed in 2009 under de Lima, and that even then no case was filed against then-Mayor Duterte. He added: Aside from indications that this is a perjured witness, one wonders at the timing of the case, when de Lima is about to face the Senate inquiry on her alleged involvement in the illegal drug case.