EDGAR Matobato, the self-confessed former member of the notorious Davao Death Squad (DDS) allegedly formed when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was Davao City mayor, has turned himself in to the police.
According to ABS-CBN, the man who last month linked the president to over a thousand murders in Davao, surrendered Friday, purportedly following the warrant for his arrest that was issued by a Davao City court earlier this week.
The warrant, the report said, was issued for the illegal possession of firearms.
It added that Matobato was brought to the police general headquarters in Camp Crame by Sen Antonio Trillanes IV, who has been serving as his custodian since his release from Senate custody.
— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) October 7, 2016
According to Inquirer, the warrant for Matobato’s arrest was issued Wednesday by Judge Silverio Mandalupe of the Regional Trial Court Branch 3 in connection with an illegal firearms possession case that was filed two years ago.
The daily said in the 2014 case, Matobato was nabbed for carrying a .45-caliber pistol without a license. He reportedly posted bail to gain temporary freedom but later failed to show up at his arraignment, which prompted the court to issue another warrant.
Trillanes on Matobato arrest warrant pic.twitter.com/WA9Ihp4pjr
— Ten Avendano (@10avendanoINQ) October 6, 2016
Last week, Matobato told Reuters in an interview that he was tired of running and was sorry for the dozens of people he had killed in the past.
The 57-year-old reportedly said that he was also ready to die for his sins.
“I’m tired of running. I apologize to all the people I have wronged, those I killed. My conscience is bothering me. I want to correct the mistakes and I want justice for those people,” he was quoted saying during the interview at a safe house in Manila.
“I don’t care if I die now, I have accepted my fate… I just don’t want to go to jail. They had better kill me, hang me for my sins,” he added.
During the Sept 15 session of the Senate hearing investigating Duterte’s anti-crime crackdown, Matobato claimed he had killed more than 50 people as a member of the DDS, when the politician was still city mayor.
He also linked Duterte to the killings, claiming the president had ordered his group of hitmen to pursue his rival supporters, bomb a mosque and kill Muslims, and set up an ambush for Senator Leila de Lima when she ordered a probe on the string of murders.
After his testimony, De Lima and the rest of the Senate’s justice committee that was leading the hearing, were removed from the panel.
Among others, De Lima was accused of bias as well as complicity in the country’s drug trade, with Duterte’s supporters pointing out that Matobato had been presented to the hearing as her witness.
Duterte is currently facing international heat for his war on drugs, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 3,000 suspected drug pushers, users and dealers, while 600,000 more have surrendered voluntarily.
Despite his unorthodox and oftentimes violent methods, the tough-talking leader enjoys good support from his countrymen. An opinion poll by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released Thursday said that the majority of Filipinos were satisfied with Duterte’s performance so far, giving the president a “very good” net performance rating of +64 percent.
The score puts him above many of his predecessors, and second highest of all the presidents who served after the EDSA revolution in 1986.
Four other presidents have received the same “very good” rating during their respective terms: Benigno Aquino III at +60 percent; Joseph Estrada also at +60 percent, and Corazon Aquino at +53 percent. Only Fidel Ramos received a higher net rating than Duterte, at +66 percent.
Gloria Arroyo, who claimed power after Estrada was ousted in 2001, only received a “moderate” satisfaction rating of +24 percent.