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Fact-checking Matobato's allegations

Senate witness Edgar Matobato takes oath before he testifies in the hearing. Senate PRIB/Albert Calvelo

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate committee on Justice and Human Rights and Public Order and Dangerous Drugs on Thursday resumed its inquiry on the rising number of drug-related killings in the country.

At the Senate panel’s third hearing, confessed killer Edgar Matobato testified and claimed President Rodrigo Duterte himself founded the “Davao Death Squad” in 1988 and ordered the killings of criminals.

Here are some of his allegations and a little background on them:

 

Matobato said he is a former member of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit with the Scout Rangers before Duterte hired him to join the DDS.

Background check: Col. Benjamin Hao, Philippine Army spokesperson, said in a phone interview with News5 that he could not find Matobato in their database: “We have no Matobato in our list. Kanina pa ako check ng check, wala talaga eh.”

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Matobato said Duterte founded the Davao Death Squad, which was originally called “Lambada Boys,” in 1988.

Background check: Duterte won as Davao City Mayor in 1988.

Meanwhile, “Lambada” is dance from Para, Brazil that became popular in the 1980s. According to Dancelessons.net, lambada became popular in 1988. French group Kaoma released a song called "Lambada" in 1989 that helped spread the lambada dance craze. A film called "Lambada" was released in 1990.

 

Matobato said Duterte ordered the bombing of mosques in Davao City after the 1993 bombing of the Davao Cathedral. He said the Davao Death Squad was divided into three groups to plant bombs in mosques and kill Muslims. However, he said, the bombs exploded when there was nobody in the mosques.

Background check: San Pedro Cathedral of Davao City was targeted by a grenade for the second time in 1993. The first explosion was on April 19, 1981, while the second was on Dec. 28, 1993. The second bombing killed six people and injured 151 others. A bomb exploded in a mosque eight hours after the Cathedral explosion. Nobody was hurt in that blast.

 

Matobato said that, in 2002, he and other members of DDS, kidnapped a suspected international terrorist named Sali Makdum in Samal. He said Makdum was brought to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) office before they hung him and then chopped up and buried the body at the Maa Quarry or Laud Quarry, owned by Bienvenido Laud. He said Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa was then chief of PAOCTF in Davao.

Background check: Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief and PAOCTF head, questioned Sali Makdum’s existence as he tried searching the name online and no details appeared about the person. PNP chief Dela Rosa also denied that his office ever had a target named Sali Makdum.

READ: Lacson sees inconsistencies is Matobato's claims

Dela Rosa served as head of the Mindanao satellite office of the PAOCTF. His accomplishments include winning the post the PAOCTF Satellite Office of the Year award in1999.

Laud Quarry, allegedly a place where the DDS buried their victims, is owned by Bienvenido Laud.

 

Matobato claimed he was a “ghost employee” as he was employed as Civil Security Unit but only worked to kill criminals.

Background check: Sotto clarified Matobato cannot be considered a ghost employee but only a contractual worker.

The Commission on Audit on June 2015 questioned Duterte for hiring over 11,000 contractual workers in 2014 costing the city government P708 million. The COA report said there was no written policy or manual on the hiring of employees particularly under contract of services and job orders but Duterte blamed the hiring on the previous mayor, Benjamin De Guzman.

 

Matobato claimed Duterte ordered the DDS to kidnap and kill the staff members / bodyguards of former House Speaker Prospero Nograles when Nograles ran against Duterte in the mayoral elections in 2010.

Background check:  Nograles ran against Duterte’s daughter, current Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, in 2010. Duterte-Carpio won as city mayor while her father was elected vice mayor.

Nograles’ son, Rep. Karlo Nograles, has said that no supporter nor person under employ has ever been killed due to politics.

 

Matobato alleged Duterte ordered DDS to kill De Lima during her visit to the Laud Quarry , however she left the area before she could be ambushed.

Background check: De Lima visited Laud Quarry in 2009 when she was chair of the Commission on Human Rights. An inmate of the Panabo City jail later accused de Lima, Rep. Prospero Nograles and six ranking police officials of taking him out of his detention cell without a court order and questioning him  about the Laud Quarry.  De Lima denied the allegation.

 

Matobato claimed Duterte ordered the DDS to kill broadcaster Jun Pala.

Background check: On Sept. 6, 2003, Pala was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle while walking home from work. Duterte has denied his involvement in the killing but said in a press conference before he officially took his oath as president that he knows who killed Pala.

 

​Matobato said Duterte also ordered the killing of a dance instructor, whom he claimed was a boyfriend of the president’s sister, Jocelyn. He said the instructor was kidnapped and later killed at the Laud Quarry.

Background check: In a radio interview on Thursday, Jocelyn denied the allegations. She said she never even had a dance instructor boyfriend. She is mulling filing charges against Matobato.

 

Matobato also mentioned Duterte uses the code name “Charlie Mike.”

Background check: Before he became president, news advisories to Davao reporters referred to Duterte as "Charlie Mike", or CM, for city mayor. 

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