Senate report: No 'DDS,' no Duterte hand in killings

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The Senate panels belied the claims of Edgar Matobato, the witness presented by Senator Leila de Lima at the hearings on alleged extrajudicial killings.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — There is still no proof the so-called Davao Death Squad exists.

This was among the findings of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs after they conducted six legislative inquiries on alleged extrajudicial killings. 

A copy of the report's 19-page executive summary was obtained by the media late Wednesday.

 

The Senate panels also dismissed the testimony of witness Edgar Matobato, who claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the vigilante group to kill criminals when he was Davao City mayor.  The senators said there isn't enough evidence to prove the existence of the Davao Death Squad.

Watch: Alleged Duterte hitman faces Senate

According to the report, Matobato's testimonies were riddled with lies and inconsistencies.

For instance, Matobato claimed he was a member of the military's Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and Civilian Home Defense Unit (CHDF) before Duterte recruited him to the "Lambada Boys," which he said eventually became the Davao Death Squad.

But the CAFGU and CHDF have no records of Matobato as a member, the report noted.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines also denied Matobato's claim he was a scout ranger, the report said.

SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, the policeman Matobato alleged as a leader of the DDS, also belied Matobato's stories during the October 3 hearing.

The family of former House Speaker Prospero Nograles vehemently denied they had bodyguards who were killed by the DDS because of politics, the report added. 

In a September 22 hearing, Matobato flip-flopped on Duterte's alleged role in the killing of a certain Sali Makdum, who Matobato said was an international terrorist. Matobato said he was just confused.

The senators also said Matobato could not have worked for the Duterte family.

"Why would Mr. Matobato be assigned to the Mayor's family, if he was indeed a hitman? He would be a political liability and high security risk since vengeful people he was purportedly ordered to kill could put his wards in more danger. This just does not make sense," the report read.

It said Matobato should be investigated.

The Senate panels, however, expressed disappointment that no face-to-face confrontation happened between Matobato and the witnesses he implicated because Senator Antonio Trillanes IV withdrew Matobato from the hearing.

This offended senators, including Senator Manny Pacquiao who said it was very "insulting" for the Senate and for Filipinos.

The Senate panels accused Trillanes and De Lima of "unparliamentary behavior" during the hearings. At one point, De Lima walked out of the Senate Session Hall when she was accused of concealing information on Matobato's kidnap-for-ransom case.

Trillanes and De Lima — staunch Duterte critics — presented Matobato as a surprise witness to the Senate on September 15.

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Related: Gordon: De Lima ousted as Justice chair to maintain objectivity

De Lima said she will submit a dissenting report Monday monring.

Trillanes, on the other hand, said the report shows Senate Committee on Justice Chair Richard Gordon is a "Duterte collaborator" whose job is to cover up the wrongdoings of his "political master."

De Lima and Trillanes did not sign the report, along with three other senators: JV Ejercito, Ralph Recto, and Grace Poe, who is abroad.

Duterte and the 'DDS'

The Human Rights Watch in 2009 said there were 124 targeted killings in Davao City from 1998 to 2008 alone, during Duterte's term as mayor. It published a 103-page report which includes accounts of people with insider knowledge of the so-called Davao Death Squad, the victims' families, witnesses, lawyers and local government officials.

It also called on the CHR to investigate Duterte and other government officials allegedly involved in death squad killings.

But the Office of the Ombudsman early this year wrote a letter to CHR chairman Chito Gascon dismissing the alleged involvement of Duterte and police officials in Davao City.

It said "there is no evidence to support the killings attributed to or attributable to the DDS."

But after Matobato's confession, the CHR said Duterte's alleged links to the DDS should be re-investigated.

The President has denied any involvement in the DDS.

Related: Cayetano says extrajudicial killings probe might have political motive

CNN Philippines' Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.