Philippines: Court issues arrest warrant for self-professed former hitman Matobato
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Philippines: Court issues arrest warrant for self-professed former hitman Matobato

A PHILIPPINE court has issued an arrest warrant for self-professed Davao Death Squad member Edgar Matobato in connection with a kidnap-cum-murder that purportedly took place 15 years ago.

According to ABS-CBN News, a Regional Trial Court (RTC) issued the warrant for Matobato and a certain Sonny Custodio for allegedly kidnapping Sali Makdum, a Turkish National in Samal, who Matobato claimed to have killed in 2002.

Presiding Judge Dorothy Montejo-Gonzaga of the Panabo City RTC also recommended no bail for their temporary release, the news site reported.

The warrant came following Matobato’s confession at a Senate inquiry that he participated in the abduction and murder of Makdum, who was allegedly a terrorist.

SEE ALSO: What do Filipinos think of the Duterte impeachment attempt?

The court also gave authorities 10 days to arrest Matobato and Custodio.

Earlier this month, a court in Manila court granted Matobato’s bail plea after he surrendered to authorities over another murder case.

In October last year, Matobato told the senate inquiry that President Rodrigo Duterte was behind a spate of killings in Davao City while the latter was the city’s mayor.

Matobato has also claimed to have personally watched Duterte shoot a man dead and give orders for police to kill suspected criminals.

According to claims by numerous human rights groups, some 1,400 suspicious killings were carried out in Davao in the early 1990s, when Duterte was city mayor.

SEE ALSO: Philippines: Duterte admits hundreds died in Davao but denies forming death squad

Other critics have said that the bloody war on drugs unleashed when Duterte took office mid-2016 bears the hallmarks of the Davao killings.

The president has also been linked to the over 8,000 deaths that occurred in the nine months of his presidency.

Earlier this month, Duterte had an impeachment complaint filed against him by opposition representative Gary Alejano. The petition is expected to fail but detractors believe it would help lawyer Jude Josue Sabio’s case against the president at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, should he file one next month as proposed.

Human rights groups have accused Duterte of committing crimes against humanity by inciting the killings, and have called for international investigations against the leader.

The president has admitted that hundreds of criminals died during his time as Davao city mayor but said he did not form a death squad to kill them as alleged recently several retired policeman.

Duterte has also repeatedly denied involvement in vigilantism and death squads either during his 22 years as Davao mayor until late 2015 or in his current role as president.