SENATOR Antonio Trillanes yesterday said confessed hitman Edgar Matobato was able to endure the apparent harassment of some senators when the controversial witness continued his testimony on extrajudicial killings in Davao City when he was still member of the feared Davao Death Squad (DDS).
The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, continued Thursday afternoon the investigation into the reported rising summary killings involving suspected drug traffickers.
“The inconsistencies, if any, were trivial as shown by the transcript. And, despite the badgering, Matobato was consistent about the events and other details he was sure about,” said Trillanes.
“But I must admit, there was a language barrier and a few of my colleagues took advantage of that. Napakita nila na mas magaling sila sa grade 1,” he added.
Sen. Leila de Lima also defended Matobato against criticisms from colleagues that the latter flip-flopped in some portions of his testimony concerning his alleged role in killing some personalities supposedly under the “instructions” from then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson rejected Trillanes and De Lima’s view. “With due respect to my colleagues’ opinions, it says a lot about a witness who testifies that he has not executed an affidavit before but actually had (on Sept. 4, 2014); one who flip-flops on several material points like the manner of killing people, i.e., binigti, chinop-chop against slitting the throat and stabbing several times; one who confessed to killing four bodyguards of former Speaker Prospero Nograles but testified later that the four were actually men of Generals Jovito Palparan Jr. and Eduardo Matillano but detailed only with former Speaker Nograles.”
“Gen. Matillano later texted me to flatly reject Matobato’s testimony that he had people detailed with Nograles since starting 2009, he was already detailed with the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG), and that unit wasn’t assigning people outside their unit,” said Lacson.
“Lalong wala raw siyang tao na former woman barangay captain. Also, Matobato could not make up his mind if he was indeed ordered by then Mayor Duterte to kill several people or not,” he said.
Lacson said Sen. Manny Pacquiao “did a splendid interpellation” on Matobato. “He exposed a lying witness – one who can’t remember the details of his previous testimony. Indeed, when one is stating the truth, there is no way he can forget.”
“On the other hand, a coached or a lying witness forgets his narration of events and circumstances over a certain period of time. Further, it was very noticeable how he would occasionally look to the direction of Senators de Lima and Trillanes almost each time before he would respond to questions by the senators,” he said.
“Also, he said his last hit was in January 2013, but a lawyer from Cagayan de Oro positively identified him – when he saw him on TV – as the gunman who waylaid him on Oct. 23, 2014. The lawyer luckily survived. I’m not sure anymore which in his testimony is true or not. I’m sorry for him as well as for my two colleagues,” he added.