16 cops linked to 'Davao death squad' to face Senate

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2016 09:49 AM | Updated as of Mar 03 2020 01:25 PM

16 cops linked to 'Davao death squad' to face Senate 1
Witness Edgar Matobato is seen during the joint Senate hearing called by the Committee on Justice and Human Rights with Public Order and Dangerous Drugs held at the Senate in Pasay City on 15 September 2016. The Senate is investigating the recent rampant extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected criminals. Joseph Vidal, PRIB/NPPA Images

Some of the 16 policemen of the Police Regional Office - 11 (PRO-11) linked to the alleged vigilante group, Davao Death Squad (DDS), faced the Senate on Monday, as the probe on extrajudicial killings resumed.

Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan, Director of PRO-11 revealed that four of the 16 cops have retired, while 12 are still in active service. Ten of the 12 are still in the PRO-11, one is in the Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG), and another is in the Aviation Security Group.

Justice Committee Chairman Richard Gordon earlier told ANC self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato will be asked to identify the cops he linked to DDS.

Gordon said Monday's session will also "find out whether there's a direct connection with extrajudicial killings in Davao and whether we could use that in our investigation on the recent and rampant extrajudicial killings alleged occurring in the whole country."

"Can [Matobato] provide additional proof? That these peoples were the ones that perpetrated killings there in violation of the law? Lest they can come up with another witness because Matobato appears to have been a very shaky witness, it is up to the prosecutors of this country, namely the Ombudsman or the Police Commission to prosecute these policemen," Gordon said.

Subpoenas were issued for the cops after Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the DDS, allegedly headed by former Davao Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte.

he went to the Senate inquiry with their lawyers. Gordon said the cops hadn't asked for protection yet from the Senate, but he maintained, "they're policemen; they can take care of themselves."

Gordon added, the only protection the Senate can offer is an executive session. He, however, said he sees no need for it unless the 13 cops request for it.

"It's better if we open it up to everybody. Although Senator Lacson and I initially thought that we should have an executive session, but as far as I'm concerned, if they have nothing to hide, they should show it and they should answer all the queries of the senators in so far as the alleged existence of the Davao Death Squad," he said.

"Remember, we are here in aid of legislation, not in aid of television," he added.

He maintained, the hearing is not meant to prosecute anyone, but is geared towards determining whether there are indeed extrajudicial killings and whether policemen are doing their jobs in accordance with the law.

He noted, they want to know if an internal affairs committee is probing any shooting altercation a cop gets tangled into, and if there will be a need for body cameras or dashboard cameras for the cops on duty, or if there is a need for more penal facilities.

He highlighted, policemen are not military men who are "trained to eliminate their enemy."

"The policemen are civilians that have been authorized by the government to carry firearms to protect the public. They’re not there to eliminate anybody unless they are in severe danger of getting killed themselves, and they still have to justify the killing as justifiable self-defense. Absent that, no policeman has the right to be a jury and [executioner]," he said. 

He added, they will not only look into the advent of vigilante killings but also into the killings perpetrated by assailants aboard motorcycles.

"We want to know what the police has done with this. We cannot just say there are too many of them. We cannot just shrug our shoulder and say we cannot do anything about it. It is the duty of the police to protect the people and we want to know what they’re doing about it," he said.