MANILA – An alleged ex-member of the vigilante group, Davao Death Squad (DDS), admitted Thursday that then Davao City Mayor now President Rodrigo Duterte himself ordered killings in the city from 1988 to 2013.
During the resumption of the Senate inquiry into suspected drug-related extrajudicial killings, a certain Edgar Matubato, 57, said he was a scout ranger when then Mayor Duterte recruited him as a member of the Lambada Boys tasked to kill criminals in the late 1980s.
The gray-haired Matubato said that the Lambada Boys became known as the Davao Death Squad sometime in the 1990s after the group was tasked to bomb a mosque in retaliation for a cathedral bomb attack in the city.
Matubato said the group was led by SPO4 Arthur Lascañas, who was described then as the “most powerful” police officer in the city that even generals took orders from him.
He enumerated a series of killings the group was tasked to accomplish, including that of suspected terrorist Sali Makdum in 2002.
The witness said they would sometimes be ordered to kill even non-criminals, citing the killing of bodyguards of then mayoral candidate Prospero Nograles who ran against Duterte in 2010.
He said that Nograles’ bodyguards were kidnapped and brought to Samal Island to be strangled, cut open and thrown into the sea.
Also killed were a certain Richard King who was a rival of incumbent Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte over a woman; radio reporter and critic of Duterte, Jun Pala; and an unnamed fixer who worked at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) among others, he added.
He said that aside from killing them via strangling or stabbing, one of their victims was also killed by being fed to a crocodile. Matubato said he has killed more or less 50 persons.
He also claimed that Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte himself used shabu. The current administration is waging an all-out war against illegal drugs.
The inquiry was led by Chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Senator Leila de Lima, who said that the revelations have given her a headache.
Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV meanwhile recommended that Matubato to be placed under the Witness Protection Program in the Senate.
Meanwhile, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, a staunch supporter of Duterte, pointed out the importance of examining Matubato’s credibility, especially since anything that could happen to him would immediately be blamed on the President.
The Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings is ongoing.