SENATOR Panfilo Lacson is willing to push for the reopening of the investigation by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights on the spate of extrajudicial killings if there are new witnesses or evidence that will corroborate the testimony of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato.
Lacson, the vice chairman of the panel, admitted that he wanted to hear the testimonies of the witnesses from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) who were not allowed to testify by Sen. Richard Gordon, the chairman of the committee.
“I am open to reopen [the investigation]. The only qualification is I need somebody or something that will corroborate or buttress Matobato’s testimony. I also want to hear the CHR witnesses,” Lacson said in an interview with reporters.
Matobato claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the killings of criminals when he was the mayor of Davao City.
But Gordon said Matobato was not a credible witness because of the inconsistencies in his statements.
The panel is expected to release its report on the investigation Wednesday after absolving President Rodrigo Duterte any involvement in the extrajudicial killings and dismissing the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad.
But Lacson said he believes that the investigation is not complete because the witnesses from the CHR were not allowed to give their testimonies.
The senator said he requested Gordon to allow the presentation of the remaining CHR witnesses during the last committee hearing but he did not push it because Gordon was so annoyed.
“He (Gordon) was very passionate, caught in the moment, he has issues with Sen. (Leila) de Lima that time, and I didn’t want to insist,” Lacson said.
Gordon did not allow the CHR to present its witnesses after one its commissioners called him “unfair” and a coward.
De Lima welcomed Lacson’s willingness to reopen the investigation but she admitted that it would be difficult to
find witnesses who would corroborate Matobato’s testimony.
She said it is unlikely that someone as brave as Matobato would come out and talk about the DDS.
De Lima said she encountered several witnesses in the past who could corroborate Matobato’s testimony but they refused to execute an affidavit or testify.
She however insisted that the reopening of the hearing should not be focused on Matobato alone because there are other witnesses who could provide the committee vital information on the matter.
“I only need three to four hearings to hear the CHR witnesses and I can propose other witnesses. I can propose other resource persons,” she added.
De Lima said she found the termination of the probe premature because there were still other witnesses invited by the committee who have yet to testify.
“These are very vital witnesses, who could provide the committee stories about other victims of EJK,” she said.
She also found the panel’s conclusion that the killings were not state-sponsored premature.
“Have we really evaluated and thoroughly scrutinized the written submissions from the PNP, like the spot reports, like the SOCO (scene of the crime operatives) reports? We have not. So how can we have such a conclusion at this point that these killings are not state-sponsored?” De Lima pointed out.