MANILA–Malacañang on Wednesday said that justice, not political persecution, is what caught up with Edgar Matobato after a court ordered the arrest of the confessed hitman.
“Mr. Matobato is a self-confessed assassin and kidnapper. He admitted his crimes in full view of the public,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“The long arm of the law has finally caught up with Matobato and demonstrates that though the wheels of justice in the Philippines grinds may be slow, it eventually catches up,” Abella said.
On Monday, Judge Dorothy Gonzaga of RTC 4 in Panabo City, Davao del Norte ordered the arrest of Matobato in connection with the 2002 kidnap-slay of Turkish national Sali Makdum.
Matobato had admitted during the Senate hearings on the Davao Death Squad that he and a certain Sonny Custodio abducted Makdum in Samal Island in 2002 allegedly on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, then Davao City mayor.
Matobato has claimed Makdum was a terrorist but authorities said they have no records on the Turkish national.
Gonzaga prescribed no bail for the charge against Matobato and Custodio and gave authorities 10 days to effect the arrest warrant.
According to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), it had already coordinated with its field office in Pangasinan where Matobato was last heard of to effect the arrest warrant.
Earlier, Matobato was earlier charged with frustrated murder filed by a lawyer.
Abero Salcedo said the self-confessed assassin was the same man who attempted to kill him in an ambush in Digos City in Davao del Sur province on Oct. 23, 2014.
The lawyer said he recognized Matobato on national television during the DDS Senate hearings.
Matobato was able to post a PHP200,00 bail on March 10 for the said case.
The charges against Matobato prompted Sen. Antonio Trillanes to cry political persecution.
But Malacañang dismissed the senator’s claim outright saying it was to be expected from administration critics including those who are out to undermine the government.
“It is to be expected that cries of political persecution would be raised by the opposition, and others who have vested interests in destabilizing the administration,” Abella said.