The Department of Justice (DOJ) rejected a complaint filed more than two months ago by self-confessed killer Edgar Matobato against five Davao City policemen for torture, arbitrary detention and violations of the rights of a detained or arrested person.
This case was dismissed by the DOJ last June 30, 2016, way before Matobato appeared in the Senate to testify against President Rodrigo Duterte, whom the former had linked to extrajudicial killings in Davao City.
Matobato claimed that he was a hit man of Duterte in the Davao Death Squad (DDS) in the city of which Duterte had been mayor.
In an eight-page resolution of the DOJ, Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit dismissed the charges against police Senior Supt. Vicente Danao Jr.; Senior Police Officer 4 Arthur Lascañas, SPO2 Rizalino Aquino, SPO2 Bienvenido Furog and SPO1 Reynante Medina.
The DOJ found no probable cause against the policemen and the case cannot go to trial.
The resolution was signed and approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva and Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.
In the antecedents of the case, Danao and Medina were charged by Matobato and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division-Death Investigation Unit with torture, as penalized under Republic Act 9745, and violations of RA 7438, “An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation As Well As the Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers, and Providing Penalties for Violations thereof.”
On the other hand, Lascañas, Aquino and Furog were charged with arbitrary detention.
The DOJ said while Matobato stated that he was “unlawfully arrested and eventually detained by respondents from June 19-26, 2014,” there was evidence, including a copy of an excerpt from the daily records of the Investigation and Detective Management Branch of the Davao City Police Office, that was presented by respondent police officers that he was arrested for violation of RA 10591, also known as he Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act.
“Matobato was arrested without a warrant of arrest because police officers… actually recovered from his possession and control, the following: 1) .45 caliber pistol with serial number 071250; 2) Firearm License Card with expired permit to carry ID…; and 3) three pieces of magazine of same caliber loaded with twenty nine rounds of ammunition,” the document read.
The DOJ said the police officers were charged despite performing their lawful duties.
“Well entrenched in jurisprudence is the time honored principle that the law bestows upon a public official the presumption of regularity in the discharge of one’s official duties and functions,” it added.
Given the validity of Matobato’s arrest, the Justice department said, it follows that “his detention is likewise lawful… Evidently, respondents have the right to detain complainant Matobato within the period provided by law or rules,” the resolution read.
In addition, the Justice department was able to file pertinent charges against Matobato before the prosecutor’s office.
The charges were eventually filed with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, 11th Judicial Region, Davao City.
In the meantime, the DOJ said the torture case filed by Matobato does not hold water.
It added that while he claimed of torture that broke his chest, an NBI medico-legal report revealed a different finding.
The report said the “radiologic report of chest” on June 23, 2015 stated in the “negative” as to the chest injury findings or negative traces of “a healing bone or healed bone in his chest.”