“Maski patayin ako, hindi na ako tatakbo.”
This is Edgar Matobato’s statement when he testified at the Senate hearing for the second time on Thursday, September 22. Matobato confessed to being a member of the Davao Death Squad and has accused President Rodrigo Duterte and several cops in Davao City of being involved with the vigilante group. The group is supposed to kill criminals and suspects in Duterte’s home city, where he served as mayor for over two decades.
But Duterte has clarified his earlier “claim” about being connected to the group, saying that he was merely “exaggerating” then. According to a Rappler report published on May 25, 2015, Duterte addressed his links to the group.
“Am I the death squad? True. That is true,” Duterte said during his regular local TV show called Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa during its May 24, 2015 episode. However, the President later said that he made such a provocative statement to challenge his critics and human rights advocates to file a case against him so he could put them under oath.
Rappler also noted that Duterte has made several “admissions” before only for him to clarify later that he was simply teasing.
At one point, Matobato turned emotional after Senator Antonio Trillanes IV asked him how he ended up with the vigilante group. The Senate witness said that in 1977, the New People’s Army (NPA) beheaded his father right in front of him, which motivated him to join the government to seek justice for his father.
Matobato said that he was a part of the militia in Davao before he became a part of the “Lambada Boys,” a vigilante group that was allegedly created by Duterte himself. According to him, the group started with seven civilian members, including him, until it expanded to accommodate rebel returnees and cops. The group then became known as the Davao Death Squad.
Matobato claimed that his former colleagues in the death squad detained and tortured him because he expressed his desire to leave the group. He also cited this as the reason why he left Davao and found his way to the Department of Justice (DOJ) before getting admitted to the Witness Protection Program.
“Ang sa akin naman, ang gusto ko naman bago nila ako patayin, Sir, gusto ko naman mabigyan naman ako ng hustisya. Ang dami nilang iniutos sa akin Sir – pagpatay, pagganyan. Basta lang sila sumusugo sa akin – umuutos. Tapos ang dami ko nang nalalaman, gusto naman nila akong patayin,” Matobato said.
According to his testimony, he left the WPP before the May 9 elections when Duterte was slated to win the presidency.
“Kaya pumunta ako dito kahit wala akong aral, nagkusang loob na pumunta dito, Sir… Maski patayin ako, na hindi ako tatakbo. Basta isasabi ko lang ang totoo. Totoong totoo. Hindi na ako pupunta kung hindi ako naghahanap ng hustisya. Puwede na akong magpakamatay, Sir, magbibigti ako. ‘Yan ang gusto ko lang, Sir. Saan ba ang hustisya, Sir?” Matobato added.
You can watch Matobato tell his troubled life story in this Inquirer video here: