Malacañang: Extrajudicial killings not Duterte's policy

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Malacañang denied the allegations of witness Edgar Matobato against President Rodrigo Duterte.

During the resumption of Senate hearing on the spate of extrajudicial killings and summary executions on Thursday, Sen. Leila De Lima presented Motabato-- a former member of the Davao Death Squad-- who is said to be responsible for killing petty criminals in Davao City.

Matobato detailed the alleged operations of the death squad and claimed these were implemented on orders of then Davao Mayor Duterte.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said he believes Duterte is not capable of ordering these alleged killings when he was still Mayor of Davao City.

"'Di ba inembistigahan na nga noon 'yan nung Commission on Human Rights noong sinaunang panahon, nung Mayor pa ho si Pangulo at wala namang charge, wala naman silang nakita direktang ebidensya," Andanar said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday morning, just shortly after the Senate hearing began.

[Translation: The Commission on Human Rights already conducted an investigation years ago, when the President was still a Mayor, and charges were not filed, they did not see any direct evidence.]

Read: Lack of evidence, witness hinder probe on 'Davao Death Squad'

Andanar said that they want today's hearing to finish first before giving a more comprehensive response on Matobato's allegations. He said they also need to consult Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on the matter.

Following Matobato's allegations that Duterte ordered the killing of Muslims as revenge for the Davao Cathedral bombing in 1993, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella called on the Muslim community to remain calm and to be critical of Matobato's statements.

"As in all cases, all citizens should maintain a sense of sobriety and maintain a sense of objectivity. I mean after all people do make statements everyday and while this person may sound credible, it is imperative that each and every one of us properly weigh whatever he said," Abella said.

Abella added they should wait for the formal investigation on these allegations to begin.

Abella also said they are hoping this will not affect the government's war against drugs.

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Ina Andolong and Digital Producer Arra Perez contributed to this story.