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Friday, December 9, 2016

Philippines: Murder, kidnap complaints filed against Duterte, 27 others

Self-confessed former assassin Edgar Matobato on Friday filed criminal and administrative complaints against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over alleged vigilante-style killings in Davao City, where the latter used to be mayor.

The complaints, filed through Matobato’s lawyer Jude Sabio before the Office of the Ombudsman, also names Davao vice mayor Paolo Duterte, Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa and 25 members of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

Local reports say Matobato accused the president of violating laws on murder, kidnap, torture and crimes against humanity.

Rappler in its report quoted Matobato as saying that the complaint was filed to seek “justice” for the alleged victims of the DDS, the so-called team of assassins that Duterte had purportedly used to summarily execute enemies and suspected criminals. It was said to target robbers, rapists and other suspects in Davao City, and was supposedly formed during the Duterte’s time as city mayor.

In his affidavit, Matobato alleged that the squad was responsible for over a thousand murders in Davao City between 1988 and September 2013, which was when he left the group.

“Mayor Duterte is the leader of the DDS. The Lambada Boys’ code name for him is ‘Charlie Mike’ or ‘Harry/Hari’. Nearly all operations have to be cleared with Duterte,” Rappler quoted Matobato as saying in the affidavit.

According to Matobato’s previous claims, the Lambada Boys were the precursor to the DDS.

Again in the affidavit, Matobato accused the president of complicity in the killings carried out by the DDS, saying: “He ordered the killings.”

The 57-year-old Matobato first made headlines in September when he told a Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings that he had killed more than 50 people as a member of the DDS.

He also alleged then that Duterte had been behind the killings, claiming the president who was mayor at the time had ordered the group to pursue his rival supporters, bomb a mosque and kill Muslims, as well as set up an ambush for Senator Leila de Lima when she ordered a probe on the string of murders. De Lima is one of Duterte’s fiercest critics.

After his Senate testimony, De Lima and the rest of the Senate’s justice committee that was leading the hearing, were removed from the panel.

Among others, De Lima was accused of bias as well as complicity in the country’s drug trade, with Duterte’s supporters pointing out that Matobato had been presented to the hearing as her witness.

Duterte is currently facing international heat for his war on drugs, which has so far claimed the lives of over 5,000 suspected drug pushers, users and dealers, while hundreds of thousands more have surrendered voluntarily.

Despite his unorthodox and oftentimes violent methods, the tough-talking leader enjoys good support from his countrymen. An opinion poll by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released recently said that the majority of Filipinos were satisfied with Duterte’s performance so far, giving the president a “very good” net performance rating of +64 percent.

The score puts him above many of his predecessors, and second highest of all the presidents who served after the EDSA revolution in 1986. - Asian Correspondent

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