MANILA - A professed assassin's claim that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered killings in Davao City during his time as mayor showed a "template" that appeared to mirror the government's war on drugs, a senator said Friday.
The gunman, Edgar Matobato, told a Senate hearing on Thursday that Duterte commissioned a hit squad called the "Lambada Boys" to kill among others, four bodyguards of a rival politician, a hard-hitting radio anchor and his sister's lover.
Malacanang has denied Matobato's claims.
READ: What a self-confessed DDS hitman told the Senate
"The relevance of this witness is to show the pattern of what’s happening right now using the Davao template. In Davao instead, it’s a war against crime. In this case, it’s a war against drugs," said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a known critic of the President.
"What this witness told the public was that it’s not entirely true that it’s just a war against crime because there were victims that were actually personal rivals of Mayor Duterte," he told ANC's "Headstart."
Matobato 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.
The hitman also claimed the tough-talking leader ordered him to kill then human rights chairperson and now Senator Leila de Lima, who is leading the Senate investigation.
The hearing will resume next week. Trillanes said he could not say whether more hit squad members would surface.
He also criticized Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III for refusing to provide security for Matobato.
"I believe Senator Koko Pimentel went out of bounds in this particular case," he added.