SHORTLY after raising eyebrows in the Senate with damning accusations against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a self-confessed hired gun is now being accused of fabricating his testimony.
The man, Edgar Matobato, had in the morning told the Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings that the country’s most powerful politician Duterte had before his ascension to presidency been the mastermind behind numerous killings in Davao City.
Matobato, a self-confessed former assassin with the so-called Davao Death Squad, claimed it was on Duterte’s orders that four aides to former House Speaker Prospero Nograles were murdered, a mosque bombed and several Muslims killed years ago.
He also claimed that Duterte had once ordered squad members to kill Senator Leila De Lima, now the president’s harshest critic.
But reports are now pouring in criticizing Matobato and challenging the credibility of his testimony.
Hope you can prove all your allegations #Matobato
— Dexter Verana (@DexterVerana) September 15, 2016
In Inquirer, Prospero’s son, now Davao City representative Karlo Alexie Nograles, denied that any of his father’s bodyguards were killed.
“I don’t know what this guy is talking about,” he was quoted saying.
In his testimony, Matobato had revealed gory details about the so-called murders, claiming Prospero’s aides had their stomachs cut open and laden with rocks while their bodies were tossed off a boat.
“From the time I was chief-of-staff to the time I was elected as congressman, no supporter of ours or persons under our employ was ever killed due to politics,” Karlo was quoted saying in a statement.
Davao City Rep. Nograles counters Matobato: Death squads didn't kill bodyguards in 2010 https://t.co/Y5bu6huWXc
— Fredrick Belarmino (@nix_pogz) September 15, 2016
Duterte and Prospero may have been political rivals, but according to Karlo, their differences were always “strictly on the level of difference in policy and style”.
“It has never degraded into the level of physical or violence. That is why it is easy for us to set aside our differences and unite for the common good of Davao and the nation,” he added.
A report by CNN Philippines says Malacanang has flat out denied Matobato’s allegations against Duterte.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella reportedly urged the public to maintain sobriety on the matter and a sense of objectivity.
WATCH: Statements of Communications Secretary Andanar,Presidential Spokesperson Abella on the ongoing Senate inquiry pic.twitter.com/NwmsfGFovH
— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) September 15, 2016
“I mean, after all, people do make statements every day and while this person may sound credible, it is imperative that each and every one of us properly weigh whatever he said,” he was quoted saying.
Presidential Communications Sec Martin Andanar, on the other hand, said there was no evidence to support Matobato’s claims.
Meanwhile, Matobato is also facing fire for providing what has been described as an inconsistent story on the shooting of former Cebu hotelier Richard King in 2014.
During the Senate hearing, Matobato was asked by Senator Panfilo Lacson about details of the June shooting to which the former claimed the businessman was shot at close range at a McDonald’s restaurant.
According to Rappler, Lacson then reminded Matobato that according to previous reports, King was shot dead inside the Vital C Building in Obrero, Davao City.
Sen. Lacson tests the credibility of witness Edgar Matobato by asking him to recount how they ambushed Richard King pic.twitter.com/RBBELHPGyg
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) September 15, 2016
Matobato was testifying today at the Senate hearing on the recent spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. He was presented a witness to hearing by De Lima.
Duterte is currently facing international fire for his administration’s hardline stance on drug users. Since the president took office earlier this year, over 2,000 suspected drug criminals have been killed, some by local enforcers and others by vigilante groups.