THE PHILIPPINE Army has no records showing that the self-proclaimed “Davao Death Squad” member who
linked President Rodrigo Duterte to summary killings was once part of its ranks.
Col. Benjamin Hao, Army spokesman, said present and former military commanders, particularly those in field units where Edgar Matobato supposedly served as a member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (Cafgu), had checked their files but no record came out to show that he was once a militiaman.
“He is not really a member of Cafgu especially the Scout Rangers. Based on our records as of this time no Edgar Matobato was found. So he is not really a member,” Hao said.
Hao also pointed out that the elite Scout Rangers had no Cafgus in their ranks.
“Some Scout Rangers may train a Cafgu but that doesn’t mean he is already a member of the elite unit,” said Hao, himself a Scout Ranger.
The Army official noted inconsistencies in Matobato’s statements particularly his claim that he was getting a monthly salary of P3,000 as Cafgu member when he joined the death squad in 1988.
Back then, a militiaman was getting P900, which was adjusted to P2,400 and later to P4,500, Hao said. There was no P3,000 salary or allowance, he added.
A source at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), who asked not to be named, said Matobato could have been a member of the village-based Civilian Volunteer Organization supervised by the local government units.
CVOs were tasked to assist village officials in law enforcement, the source said.
The AFP also said it had no record of an alleged terrorist by the name of Sali Makdum, who Matobato claimed he and other Davao Death Squad members executed in 2002.
Matobato told a Senate inquiry on Thursday he and other members of the death squad abducted Makdum in Samal Island and brought him to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force office, where they hanged him and then chopped his body before burying it in a quarry.
“You can make your own conclusion, but what the AFP can say is that, we have no terrorist by that name in our list,” AFP public affairs office Chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.
NBI chief disowns ‘hitman’
Also on Friday, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran denied links to Motabato, who claimed he worked with the longtime NBI official for 15 years.
“I know Motabato as a witness but he was never a part of my work before in Davao,” Gierran said.
Gierran served as the NBI regional director for the Davao region, before being appointed agency head by Duterte in place of Virgilio Mendez.
“It’s not true. I’ve been with the NBI for 26 years, and in these long years, I have been conducting myself in such ways that I give everyone his due, [and I]perform my job with honesty, objectivity and fairness,” Gierran said.
Gierran claimed there could be a “hidden agenda” as some people were envious of his appointment as NBI chief.