MANILA – Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Friday maintained that he found the testimony of alleged former hitman Edgar Matobato to be inconsistent. He also lauded fellow Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao for his interpellation.
“Sen. Pacquiao did a splendid interpellation. He exposed a lying witness – one who can’t remember the details of his previous testimony,” Lacson said.
Pacquiao reprimanded Matobato for inconsistencies in his testimony, pointing out that no one would believe him if he continued to be inconsistent. He also said he believes that Matobato was being coached on what to tell the Senate. The legislative body has been holding an inquiry into the suspected extrajudicial killing of drug suspects.
Lacson, like Pacquiao, pointed out that Matobato had several inconsistencies, one of which was his earlier claim that alleged terrorist Sali Makdum, one of the alleged Davao Death Squad’s (DDS) victims, was killed upon orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Matobato, a self-confessed DDS member, denied that he earlier said that it was the President who personally gave orders to kill Makdum, but explained that it was Duterte’s right-hand man, SPO4 Arthur Lascaña who told him the orders came from the then mayor of Davao City.
Lacson also pointed out that Matobato said that his last hit was in January 2013, but a lawyer from Cagayan de Oro positively identified him as the gunman who waylaid him on Oct. 23, 2014.
According to him, the lawyer luckily survived and identified Matobato when he saw him on television.
“With due respect to my colleagues’ opinions, it says a lot about a witness who testifies that he has not executed an affidavit before but actually had (on Sept. 4, 2014); one who flip-flops on several material points like the manner of killing people, i.e., binigti (hanged), chinop-chop (chopped) vs slitting the throat and stabbing several times; one who confessed to killing four bodyguards of former Speaker Prospero Nograles but testified later that the four were actually men of Generals Jovito Palparan Jr. and Eduardo Matillano but detailed only with former Speaker Nograles,” Lacson said.
He noted that Gen. Matillano later texted him to reject Matobato’s testimony that he had people detailed to Nograles since starting 2009, he was already detailed to the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG), and that unit wasn’t assigning people to other units.
He further said that Matobato could not make up his mind if he was indeed ordered by then mayor Duterte to kill several people or not.
“Indeed, when one is stating the truth, there is no way he can forget. Upon the other hand, a coached or a lying witness forgets his narration of events and circumstances over a certain period of time,” he added.
Lacson also mentioned how Matobato would noticeably look into the direction of Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV when cross-examined.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon also called out the witness for seemingly seeking assurance from de Lima and Trillanes.
“It was very noticeable how he would occasionally look to the direction of Senators de Lima and Trillanes almost each time before he would respond to questions by the senators,” Lacson said.
“I’m not sure anymore which in his testimony is true or not. I’m sorry for him as well as for my two colleagues,” he added.