Complaint lodged over extrajudicial killings
SELF-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato filed a complaint on Friday at the Office of the Ombudsman against President Rodrigo Duterte and his son Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald de la Rosa and several others in connection with alleged killings conducted by the “Davao Death Squad” (DDS).
Matobato, whom Duterte’s arch-nemesis Sen. Leila de Lima presented before a Senate inquiry in September, accused 28 respondents of murder, kidnapping, murder with kidnapping as well as violation of the Anti-Torture Act and Republic Act 9851 which covers crimes against humanity.
Also accused were retired police senior superintendent Dionisio Abude; then-police senior superintendents Rey Capote and Tony Rivera, then-colonel Isidero Florivel, then-police chief inspectors Jacy Francia, Fulgencio Pavo, and Ronald Lao;
Then-senior police officers Arthur Lascañas, Sanson Buenaventura, Bienvenido Laud, Jim Tan, Reynante Medina, Bienvenido Furog, Vivencio Jumawan, Rizalino Aquino, Enrique de los Reyes Ayao, Donito Ubales, Jun Laresma, and Jun Bisnar; and retired police officer Arnold Dechavez, Ludy Pagidupon, Jojo Bosa, Romel Capitana, “Intsik” Tan and Boboy Maldito.
Matobato alleged that in 1988, then-Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte formed and led a group that later became known as the DDS.
“This group was composed of some members of the Davao City police and some civilians collaborating with the police who were part of the DDS. It carries out extrajudicial killings or killings of suspected criminals such as hold-uppers, rapists, snatchers, drug pushers, drug addicts and other individuals on Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s orders,” he said.
In a judicial affidavit, which was executed on December 7 and attached to the complaint, Matobato said he was part of the original group that became known as the DDS.
Matobato alleged that Duterte was the “highest leader” of the group and that Lascañas and Buenaventura were the right-hand men.
The affidavit also detailed how the alleged killings were carried out, and enumerated the names of victims.
According to Matobato, the DDS usually abducted and strangled victims, chopped the bodies and buried the remains in dumping grounds.
He claimed the group killed over 1,000 people from 1988 until he left it in 2013. “When I decided to leave the DDS in September 2013, I was tortured,” Matobato alleged.
He said he filed the complaint so that the Ombudsman would conduct an investigation and hold Duterte and other respondents liable.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who was at an anti-corruption forum in Quezon City on Friday, said she had yet to read the complaint.
When asked if she would inhibit from investigating the President, the Ombudsman said: “I will see, I will look at the case.”
Morales is related to the husband of the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Malacañang on Friday branded as “harassment” the complaint filed by Matobato against President Duterte.
“The complaint is nothing but harassment aimed at distracting the Chief Executive from performing his duty,” Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag said in a statement.
Banaag said the Palace acknowledges the constitutional mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman to act on and investigate complaints against government officials, but reiterated the President’s immunity from suit.
“It is noteworthy to mention that the Ombudsman cannot discipline or remove impeachable officials, which include the President. He enjoys immunity while in office,” she said.
Banaag said the Palace could not comment further on an ongoing case.
But she added: “the Ombudsman already terminated an earlier investigation on the Davao Death Squad case which linked then Davao City Mayor Duterte.”
Asked about a January 2016 letter sent to the Commission on Human Rights by the Office of the Ombudsman, which stated that the investigations into the DDS had been closed and terminated, Morales said: “I’m not a signatory to that. I understand it was the Overall Deputy Ombudsman [Melchor Arthur Carandang] who came up with it.”