MANILA – A Senate witness claiming to have worked as an assassin for then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte claimed Thursday the tough-talking leader ordered him to kill then human rights chairperson and now Senator Leila de Lima.
In 2009, de Lima, then the human rights chairperson, was visiting an alleged dumping ground for victims of the infamous Davao Death Squad in Ma-a, Davao City.
Edgar Matobato, who claims to be a part of the death squad, said Duterte ordered his team to kill de Lima.
READ: Self-confessed death squad member tags Duterte in killings
Matobato, however, said the plan to kill de Lima did not push through.
He said he and his team would have killed de Lima if only the latter reached a certain part of the hilly site.
“Inabangan ka namin doon. Kung pumasok ka pa sa itaas, naka-ambush position na kami doon,” Matobato told de Lima.
(We were waiting for you there. Had you gone further up, we would have killed you because we were already in an ambush position.)
“Hindi kami nakapunta sa taas. That property is a hilly property. Hindi na kami umabot sa taas na nandoon kamo kayo,” de Lima said in response to Matobato’s claim.
(We no longer went to the upper portion of the hill. That property is a hilly property. We did not go to the part where you said you were waiting.)
De Lima, a staunch critic of President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, had butted heads with the long-time Davao City mayor several times in the past.
During her stint as human rights chairperson, de Lima launched a probe into the Davao Death Squad, earning Duterte’s ire. As justice secretary, she also attempted to revive a case involving the DDS but it was eventually dropped due to lack of witness.