MANILA - A self-confessed assassin on Thursday accused President Rodrigo Duterte of ordering the killing of suspected criminals in Davao City during his reign as mayor.
Edgar Matubato, 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.
Under questioning by Sen. Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte's bloody war on drugs, Matubato said he killed around 50 people from 1988 to 2013.
"Ang trabaho po namin ay pumapatay ng kriminal kagaya ng [Our job is to kill criminals like] drug pusher, rapist, snatcher. Ganyan po ang pinapatay namin araw-araw [These are the people we kill everyday]," he said.
"Gusto kong bigyan ng katarungan 'yung nagawa kong mga kasalanan, 'yung pumatay akong ng mga tao, matagal na rin... para malaman ng taumbayan ang ginawa namin sa Davao City, [I want justice for my sins. I killed people. I want our countrymen to know what we did in Davao]," he said.
Matubato also accused Duterte of ordering a bomb attack on a Davao City mosque in 1993. The mayor, he said, believed Muslims were behind an explosion at the Cathedral of Davao City earlier that year.
"Umakyat siya (Duterte) sa opisina namin, kinausap si Major Asindista, na i-massacre niyo iyung mga mosque, mga Muslims [He went to our office and told Major Asindista to massacre the mosques, the Muslims]," he said.
Asked if he personally saw Duterte giving the order, Matubato said: "Andoon man ako sa opisina. Palagi akong dikit sa mga opisyal. Parang gumaganti siya na binomba ang cathedral. [I was at the office. I was always beside the officials. He may be seeking revenge for the bombing of the cathedral]."
But there were no injuries since there was no worship service at the mosque during the attack so Duterte ordered the hit squad to "capture" and "kill" suspects in the cathedral blast, Matubato said.
"Inaabangan namin iyung mga Muslim, dinudukot namin, pinagpapatay namin, inililibing namin sa mga quarry. [We ambush Muslims, abduct them, kill them and bury them in quarries]," he said.
Matubato said the death squad was also behind the killing of foreign terror suspect Sali Makdum in 2002.
With their alleged team leader police officer Arthur Lascañas, the witness, said they kidnapped Makdum from Samal City and brought him to the Davao City police office, then headed by Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa who is now director of the Philippine National Police.
"Pinatay namin, chinop-chop namin doon sa mga quarry, inilibing namin doon sa mga quarry [We killed him, chopped up his body and buried him at the quarry site]," he said.
Matubato said the death squad was ordered to ensure that criminals did not die under "ordinary" circumstances.
"Hindi pumapayag ang opisyal na ordinaryo lang ang pagkamatay ng mga tao kasi parang mga sadista. Kailangan putol-putulin iyung katawan. Kinukuhanan muna ng mga damit, tapos sinusunog tapos china-chop-chop na [The official does not allow an ordinary death for people because they are like sadists. We need to chop up their bodies. We get their clothes, burn them then chop them up]," he said.
He said among his fellow assassins were rebel returnees and police officials loyal to Duterte, including current police chief Ronald dela Rosa.
Matobato said he has killed about 50 people from 1988 to 2013. The group was primarily tasked to kill suspected criminals.