MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo found allegations linking President Rodrigo Duterte to the "Davao Death Squad" (DDS) "serious," as she urged authorities to "exhaust all efforts" to reveal the truth.
"The allegations raised by Senate witness Edgar Matobato are serious. We must exhaust all efforts to get to the truth with due regard for our democratic processes and the rule of law," she said in a statement Thursday.
In a Senate committee hearing, Edgar Matobato claimed Duterte ordered the killing of suspected criminals in Davao City during his reign as mayor.
Matobato, a former army militia, told a Senate hearing that he was recruited to a hit squad called the "Lambada Boys" alongside five others in 1988, when Duterte started his first term.
READ: Self-confessed death squad member tags Duterte in killings
Robredo also slammed accusations by Senator Alan Cayetano, Duterte's running mate in the 2010 presidential elections, that Matobato's testimony was another plot by the Liberal Party to oust Duterte.
"We are offended by Senator Cayetano's accusation that the Liberal Party is plotting to oust the President and that I will be the intended beneficiary of this plan," Robredo said.
"In yesterday's Cabinet meeting, I personally made the assurance that no such plan exists and we continue to support the reforms of this administration," she added.
The vice president urged the public to "remain vigilant and discerning" as the Senate investigation on the DDS unfolds.
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Malacanang has denied Matobato's claims, saying the president is "not capable" of giving such orders.
"I don't think he is capable of giving a directive like that… e di ba inimbestigahan na nga yun niyan ng Commission of Human Rights noong sinaunang panahon noong mayor pa ho si Pangulo, wala namang charge, wala naman silang nakuhang ebidensya," said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.
Abella added that the President is unperturbed by the testimonies, saying his determination to fight drugs, crime and corruption remains.
-- With reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News