“Not credible” – Lacson says about ex-Davao Death Squad witness

Senator Panfilo Lacson said Edgar Matobato flunked his credibility test
Edgar Matobato is a self-confessed member of the infamous Davao Death Squad (DDS)
Lacson said Matobato was not as definite when he was narrating as compared to the time the senator was asking questions to test his credibility


MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson said Edgar Matobato, the “witness” who linked President Rodrigo Duterte to several killings in Davao City since the late 1980s, flunked his credibility test.

“Naiba na ang tono kasi nang kinu-question ko na eh. Hindi na siya kasing-definite noong nagna-narrate siya when I started asking him questions to test his credibility. Iba na ang demeanor. Yung kine-claim niya na alam niya hindi ganoon. Pwedeng may alam siya pero di ganoon kalawak. Or pwedeng kakapiraso lang, in-expand niya para maging dramatic,” Lacson said as quoted in an article by Update Philippines.

[“His tone changed when I started questioning him. He is not as definite when he was narrating when I started asking him questions to test his credibility. His demeanor changed. Those things he is claiming he knows is not like that anymore. Maybe he knows something but not much, or probably very little and he tries to expand it to make it dramatic.”]

“In my book, he’s not a credible witness,” the senator added.

Because of this, Lacson, who had investigated several cases while working in the Philippine National Police, said he would keep his distance from witnesses like Matobato.

“Ako, imbestigador din ako. Kung ganyan ang testigo ko, aatrasan ko yan eh,” he said.

[“I’m also an investigator. If my witness is like that, I will not stand by him.”]

During the Senate hearing on the alleged extrajudicial killings during Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs on Thursday, Senator Lacson tested the credibility of Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed member of the infamous Davao Death Squad (DDS).

The senator reminded Matobato that he may face charges if he is proven to be lying before the Senate.

“Hindi ito biro-biro kasi puwede kayong makulong. Binalaan kayo ng chairperson na ang sasabihin ninyo [ay] under oath, wala pa naman kayong immunity,” Lacson told Matabato.

[“This is not a joke and you can be jailed on this. You are warned by the chairperson that everything you will say will be under oath, and you don’t have immunity.”]

“Wala kayong judicial immunity na malilibre sa kaso at gagamitin na state witness. Yung mga tinetestify ninyo ay puwedeng gamitin laban sa inyo,” he added.

[“You don’t have judicial immunity that will help you with the criminal case or will make you as a state witness. Everything you say can be used against you.”]

Senator Lacson is the chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, which is jointly holding an investigation with the Senate committee on justice and human rights chaired by Sen. Leila de Lima.

The senate investigation is intended for the alleged extrajudicial killings amid the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Jefferson Antiporda mentioned in his article for The Manila Times that Lacson particularly doubted Matobato’s statement that a certain terrorist suspect named “Sali Makdum” was kidnapped in 2002 and was brought to the office of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) supposedly to be killed.

The present PNP chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa, once served as a PAOCTF officer.

“Kinuha namin siya (Makdum) sa itaas ng palengke tapos dinala sa opisina ng PAOCTF. Anim kaming kumuha…Dinala na namin sa quarry at pinatay namin,” Matobato said.

[“We took Makdum from the market then brought him to the office of PAOCTF. Six of us took him, brought him to the quarry and killed him.”]

An article by Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez for GMA News said that Dela Rosa denied knowing Matobato and a certain Arthur Lascañas who was the supposed “team leader” of the death squad.

In addition, Lacson, who was the former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the PAOCTF, pointed out that PAOCTF has been abolished in 2001.

“Wala nang PAOCTF noong 2002 kasi ako’y senador na nung 2001 at nawala na yung PAOCTF,” Lacson said.

[“There had been no PAOCTF on 2002 as I’m already a senator on 2001 and PAOCTF is already abolished.”]

Lacson also emphasized that he cannot find any ‘Sali Makdum’ on the internet.

“Kanina pa ako Google nang Google kay Sali Makdum … gigil na gigil na ako wala akong makita. Baka non-existent yan,” the senator asked.

[“I’ve been using Google to check Salik Makdum but I cannot find anything. Maybe that is non-existent.”]

However, De Lima said that she got information that the PAOCTF still existed even after Lacson stepped down as police chief.

“Even after the exit of Senator Ping Lacson, the information that I got was that PAOCTF existed and the office [was] supposedly in Malacañang and that we can actually verify whether there are records or operations of arrest in 2002 or 2003,” De Lima said.
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