MANILA – The claim of a former hitman for long-time Davao City mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte is a serious one that must be looked into, an international human rights organization said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch was alarmed by Edgar Matobato’s testimony, saying the Philippine government should invite an independent investigation involving the United Nations (UN).
“The detailed testimony from a ‘death squad’ member that then-Mayor Duterte was personally involved in killings and ordered others are very serious allegations that require an independent investigation,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“President Duterte can’t be expected to investigate himself, so it is crucial that the United Nations is called in to lead such an effort. Otherwise, Filipinos may never know if the president was directly responsible for extrajudicial killings.”
Matobato had no qualms narrating during a Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee hearing yesterday what he claimed was his role as member of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), an alleged group long rumored to be used by Duterte in going after criminals and even enemies.
READ: 'Davao Death Squad composed of cops, rebel returnees'
“Ang trabaho namin ay pumapatay ng mga kriminal tulad ng drug pusher, rapist, snatcher. Ganyan ang pinapatay namin araw-araw,” he said.
(Our primary task was to kill criminals such as drug pushers, rapists, and snatchers. Those were the kinds of people we killed everyday.)
"Hindi pumapayag ang opisyal na ordinary lang ang pagkamatay, kasi para silang mga sadista. Kailangan putul-putulin ang mga katawan."
(Our bosses were not satisfied with ordinary killings. They were sadists. They wanted the bodies chopped up.)
Duterte has had a series of run-ins with the UN, including a rapporteur and its secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. The UN officials called out Duterte for the rising death toll in his war on drugs.
Duterte is displeased with being lectured about human rights by foreign actors, saying this is a form of meddling in domestic affairs.
MAP, CHARTS: The Death Toll of the War on Drugs