Hitman Says Duterte Masterminded 1,000 Death Squad Murders Prior To Presidency

REUTERS/Erik De Castro

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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A former hitman accused Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte of ordering more than 1,000 extrajudicial murders between 1988 and 2013.

The Senate held a hearing Thursday to investigate extrajudicial killings in the Philippines over the past three months. During the hearing, an alleged former hitman dropped a bomb on investigators.

Edgar Matobato revealed that he was recruited by Duterte as a member of the Lambado Boys in the late 1980s. The Lambado Boys eventually became the Davao Death Squad (DDS), an infamous vigilante group reportedly responsible for a huge wave of killings in Duterte’s hometown of Davao, reports

Matobato said that he worked for 24 years under then-mayor Duterte as a “ghost employee” in the Civil Security Unit at City Hall. He explained that his only job was to kill criminals, as well as anyone who got in the mayor’s way.

The allegations presented by Matobato are serious.

Carrying out orders allegedly given to him by Duterte, Matobato said he bombed a mosque in 1993 and butchered Muslims.

He and five other death squad members captured a suspected terrorist, executed him by hanging, and then chopped up his body.

Matobato reportedly killed the director of the National Bureau of Investigation and fed his body to a crocodile.

Duterte also called out hits on outspoken journalists critical of his reign, political rivals, and human rights investigators.

These are just a few of the horrible murders Matobato pinned on Duterte, and he didn’t stop with accusations of Duterte. The witness told the Senate that former Vice Mayor of Davao and Duterte’s son, Paulo Duterte, also ordered killings.

Matobato said that Paulo ordered the death of a man who overtook him in traffic. Paulo also reportedly had a billionaire who was interested in the woman he wanted whacked. The assassins were paid around $10,500 for the hit.

Prior to his election, Duterte acknowledged his involvement with the death squads. “We’re the ninth safest city. How do you think I did it? How did I reach that title among the world’s safest cities? Kill them all,” Duterted explained last May. “Me? They are saying I’m part of a death squad. True, that’s true,” he said, later promising to kill thousands more criminals.

Duterte later retracted his statement. “I have denied that DDS is a criminal group. There’s no such thing as a DDS. There’s only a Davao Development System – that is my guiding principle,” he explained.

The presidential palace has denied the latest accusations against Duterte. His son Paulo also dismissed the allegations, claiming that the witness is a “madman.”

“I don’t think [Duterte] is capable of giving a directive like that,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told reporters, revealed

In the same Senate hearing, Philippine police chief Ronald Bato introduced that 3,541 people have been killed in the “shoot-to-kill” drug war during Duterte’s almost 80 days in office. Of those deaths, only 1,506 were carried out by police. The remaining 2,035 deaths were extrajudicial killings pulled off by unknown assailants.

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