• Hitman’s claims spark calls to probe President

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    THE PHILIPPINES faced calls Friday to investigate its firebrand president after a self-confessed hitman alleged Rodrigo Duterte ordered a thousand opponents and suspected criminals murdered when he was a city mayor.

    Edgar Matobato told a Senate inquiry on Thursday that he and a group of policemen and former rebels in the “Davao Death Squad” killed some 1,000 people in Davao City on Duterte’s orders from 1988 to 2013, with the politician himself shooting dead one of the victims.

    “These are serious allegations and we take them seriously, we look into them,” said US State department deputy spokesman Mark Toner.

    The allegations surfaced as the Senate investigated alleged extrajudicial killings in an ongoing anti-drug crackdown that has led to more than 3,000 deaths in Duterte’s first 72 days in office.

    Critics say the alleged killings in Davao, where Duterte was mayor for more than 20 years, established a pattern that has spread nationwide under the new presidency.

    The testimony of Matobato, 57, sheds light on “the similarity of the strategy adopted by the (Davao Death Squad) and that of the vigilantes that now roam the whole country,” Sen. Leila de Lima, who is leading the inquiry, said in a statement.

    UN probe urged

    US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch urged Manila to let United Nations investigators probe the hitman’s claims.

    “President Duterte can’t be expected to investigate himself, so it is crucial that the United Nations is called in to lead such an effort,” the monitor’s Asia director Brad Adams said.

    Sitting Philippine presidents are immune from criminal prosecution during their single, six-year term.

    However, the Constitution provides for their impeachment and removal from office for “culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”

    In 2001, president and populist ex-movie star Joseph Estrada was removed from office in a military-backed popular revolt, though an impeachment trial against him on graft charges was inconclusive.

    During his election campaign at the start of the year, Duterte both admitted and denied involvement in the death squads.

    He has so far ignored the latest allegations but Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd branded them as “lies and fabrications.”

    ‘Killings haven’t stopped’

    Another Duterte ally, Senator Alan Cayetano, alleged Thursday that the inquiry was part of an opposition “Plan B” to unseat the president — a charge de Lima rejected.

    However, she later suggested it might be time to “revisit” the presidential immunity doctrine.

    “Otherwise there will be no solution but impeachment, people power, things like that,” she told reporters Thursday, asking: “What if we had elected a mass murderer, serial killer or rapist?”

    Wilnor Papa, a campaign officer for the Manila office of Amnesty International, said rampant killings were the outcome of the failure of previous governments to bring criminal charges against Duterte.

    “We are now seeing riding-in-tandem (motorcycle-borne assassins) like those that prowled the Davao streets in the late 1990s. The targets are not only drug syndicates. Even purse snatchers use them and they can target basically anyone,” he told AFP.

    Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman urged Duterte Friday to name an independent fact-finding commission made up of retired judges to “determine the identities of the principals and perpetrators as well as of the victims.”

    Catholic priest Amado Picardal, a critic from Davao, said the city assassins killed 1,424 people between 1998 and 2015, mostly in slums with the victims including 132 children and two journalists.

    Most victims were either involved in illegal drugs or petty crimes. All were unarmed, did not fight back and were “shot in cold blood,” he wrote in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines online newsletter.
    “The killings have not stopped,” he said.

    No protective custody

    The fate of the former death squad member Matobato was uncertain on Friday as the Senate president, Duterte ally Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, refused to take him into protective custody.

    His testimony was not related to the drug war killings being investigated, Pimentel told AFP, adding: “There’s even no showing that his life or safety is threatened.”

    De Lima on Friday withdrew her request asking Pimentel to grant protective custody to Matobato.

    “I am perplexed, disturbed, and extremely disappointed with the Senate President’s refusal to grant protective custody to Edgar Matobato,” de Lima said.

    Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th disclosed that “good Samaritans” have provided temporary sanctuary to Matobato, and called Pimentel “heartless.”

    “Even setting aside whatever legal technicality he used, it was heartless and reeks of political maneuvering to cover for President Duterte,” he claimed.

    Human rights body speaks out

    The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) had previously confirmed the existence of the Davao Death Squad.

    “In light of the foregoing, the Commission concludes that in the period of 2005-2009, there was a systematic practice of extrajudicial killings, which can be attributed or attributable to a vigilante group or groups dubbed in the media as the Davao Death Squad,” a resolution from CHR stated.

    “These killings were selective: the victim was usually involved or suspected to have been involved in some type of illegal activity. The manner of killing was also distinct: the assailants were usually motorcycle-riding gunmen,” the resolution stated.

    CHR officials emphasized to The Manila Times the importance of protecting human rights as part of good governance.

    The agency has been under fire from commentators and netizens for supposedly taking the side of crime suspects instead of victims.

    CHR Commissioner Leah Armamento pointed out that the agency’s mandate is “enjoined in the Constitution.”

    “We get our budget from the government but our mandate is to monitor the performance of the government, to make sure all government systems work for the people. It’s part of governance that human rights are respected,” Armamento told The Manila Times in an interview.

    History will bear the CHR out, said Joel Sarmenta, the agency’s specialist for communications.

    “There will have been no better time in the history of this republic to have a Commission on Human Rights than now,” Sarmenta said.

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    12 Comments

    1. I am a Norwegian, and I hate that the US is acting like a world police. They should care about their own crimes and not bather other countrys. Fuck I hate these stupid americans. Unchle Sam og home never come back

      • I am a Norwegian
        ——————————

        Is that a country ?
        Say hi to Santa Claus for me

        Norway has the second-highest rate of deaths by drug overdose in Europe – 70 per million, compared to a European average of only 16 per million.

        Norway has one of the highest rates of personal income tax in the world, at some 39%. It has been even higher – at 47.5%

        I would hate everyone too if i lived in Norway

    2. tayong mga pilipino ay mahilig magbigay ng kanya-kanyang kuro-kuro or opinion sa isang bagay na madaling basahin kung ito ay bigla na lang darating sa eksena. Si Matobato ay bigla na lang lumitaw na siya daw ay miembro ng Davao Death Squad sa senate hearing at, hayon, spilled a lot of beans against President Duterte. Ang paglitaw niya sa eksena ay kagagawan ni De Lima at Trillanes. Ang lahat na present na senador sa senate hearing na ito, maliban sa dalawang ito, ay hindi alam na itong si Matobato ay dadalo sa senate hearing upang magsaad ito ng mga dumi ni Presidente sa Davao City noong siya ay mayor doon. Maliwag na political right back kay Presidente Duterte ang ginawa ni Trillanes at De Lima. According to reports, Matobato used to be under the protection program of HR for three years, how come he did not reveal all this alleged killings under Duterte’s time as mayor of Davao City when he was in HR’s protective custody?Now, he is doing it for what? Lots of money and a promise of the US that he would be given a visa to live in the US, together with his family? Wow, an offer you cannot refuse. De Lima and Trillanes are doing a disservice to their country for letting the US and UN to intrude in the domestic affairs of the Philippines. They are not helping in solving the illegal drug problem of P.I. They are more concerned to their political ambition rather than to serve the majority of the peaceful citizenry of P.I. They are self-righteous, destructive , evil, self-centered, selfish, etc.

    3. If Duterte was investigated by de Lima as head of CHR years ago, how come he was not charged at that time? What were the CHR findings? Conclusive or Inconclusive?

    4. From the Filipino people to USA.
      – Please spare us your bullshits! You dont have moral ascendancy to tell us what’s right and wrong when your government committed mass bombings. Why dont you confront China, your almost co-equal? They violated human rights by Killing thousands of Catholics loyal to the Pope since the 1960’s until now and set-up a parallel church in which you only have 2 options”: Join or be Detained or killed!
      -Leave us alone as we try to build our country and make it like SIngapore and South Korea or Even Malaysia. Why are you silent when Malaysia and Singapore have their Draconian Policies to restore order before? IS it because you are no matched with Lee Kuan yew and Mahathir?
      -If you truly cares, send in your top most companies here in the Philippines to invest like Intel, GM, Apple, GE etc. and gave us F16’s jets like you did to Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia. Give us Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates instead of 60 yrs old cutters.
      to defend ourselves

      If you truly cares America

    5. “These are serious allegations and we take them seriously, we look into them,” said US State department deputy spokesman Mark Toner.

      TONER: why US don’t just shut up and stay home? These allegations are ALL POLITICS and you know it… and USA knows it… and your partners the Yellow Crooks know all also!

      Why don’t you take care of the 500 homicides in Chicago last year only? And what about your regular 16,121 homicides yearly…

      • These stats are 2010 – 2015

        Philippines murder rates among the highest in the world.

        Cebu – 93 murders per 100,000

        Zamboanga – 81 murders per 100,000

        Davao – 71 murders per 100,000

        Gen Santos – 71 murders per 100,000

        Chicago (United States) – 15.65 murders per 100,000

        New York City (United States) – 7 murders per 100,000

        United Kingdom – 1 murder per 100,000

    6. U.S and U.N stay out and stop talking. Your not invited in the circus. The allegations are serious, serious lies. Don’t just ride on anything that the witnesses will tell. It is so easy to get paid people to come up with allegations. “Obama ordered to bomb Syria and include civilians and children” this is something worth your time and statements

    7. US State Department will look into the allegations and US based watchdogs Human Rights Watch will urge a UN probe. May I ask for whose benefit? America you’re too obvious. Who called you for help against the 16 M voters who catapulted Duterte to office? What you will do will not be for the benefit of the ordinary Filipinos. It is to keep the status quo of the oligarchs in power. If it is to preserve your interests in the country you don’t need to disenfranchise us in the middle and lower economic strata. Meet the Philippines on equal terms even if we are your little brown brothers. At least don’t show favoritism to those who already have, true-blue or otherwise.

    8. The allegations by Mr. Matobato is serious and must be investigated. He may have some inconsistencies while cross-examined in the Senate but his recollection of the killings is vivid – for how one forgets the heinous crime one committed for so many times and for so long? This testimony by Matobato cannot just be ignored and swept under the rug. With all the things that Duterted had said and done during the post campaign period until his coming to power, there were bits and pieces of clues that begin to unravel about Duterte himself. What he said he meant and what he said he did he in fact did. Outside group like the International Human Rights or the UN has to step in to conduct an independent investigation about Matobato’s allegations. I hope that Matobato stays alive.

    9. Digong must be mindful of these people. He just ruffled powerful men and its just too funny for these guys to immediately ride on the issue as if on cue. i wont be surprised is this matobato guy us being paid in dollars.

      • I agree, they`re out not to let him succeed., but I think he is tougher than this debacle his 23 years as a politician will probe that and 16 M who vote and thuosands of pinoys abroad sorry yellow losers. People are felling the change and majority of us like it much.

        Just wandering,some one is behind all this.

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