DAVAO CITY—Davao Court issued an arrest warrant against Edgar Matobato, the self-confessed hitman who testified before the Senate, after he failed to show up for his arraignment on Tuesday before Branch 3 of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities here.
Matobato’s lawyer, Gregorio Andolana, also failed to show up for the scheduled hearing, leading Judge Silverio Mandalupe to cancel Matobato’s bail bond.
Matobato faces charges for the possession of illegal firearms when he was arrested carrying a Colt .45 caliber pistol on June 9, 2014.
The court recommended that a case be filed against him when it found he was carrying an expired license to carry.
After Matobato posted bail on June 30, 2014, his arraignment was postponed three times for different reasons.
On Feb. 17, 2015, after he failed to appear for his arraignment, the court forfeited his P2,000 bail bond and issued a warrant for his arrest.
But his lawyer Andolana presented a certificate showing that Matobato was under the Witness Protection Program of the Justice Department and asked the court to recall his warrant of arrest.
In his statement during the Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings, Matobato said he was abducted by the Davao police on June 19, 2014 following the death of Cebu-based hotelier Richard Lim King.
He said that he was tortured for a week so that he would admit that he was behind King’s death.
The National Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday that Matobato, fearing for his life, refused to go to Davao to help them locate the burial grounds of victims killed by the Davao Death Squad, of which he claimed to be a member.
NBI spokesman Ferdinand Lavin and other NBI officials testified Tuesday before the Senate committee on justice, which is investigating the rise in extrajudicial killings during the Duterte administration.
“He was so afraid, afraid for his life. He said ‘Don’t send me to Davao because I will be killed there,’” Lavin said.
Lavin said because they could not locate the places where the bodies were allegedly dumped by the DDS, they could not pursue the case against those that Matobato named in his sworn statement for lack of evidence against the policemen who were tagged.
Matobato’s affidavit did not identify Davao City Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte as being directly involved in the Davao Death Squad, although he testified to this effect before the Senate committee on justice.
Senator Leila de Lima, who was Justice secretary at the time, had ordered the NBI to assess Matobato’s affidavit in 2014 when he executed it.
Reports in September 2015 said five Davao City policemen implicated in the alleged Davao Death Squad’s killings were absent during the preliminary hearing of their cases at the Justice Department. The five–Senior Supt. Vicente Danao Jr., SPO1 Reynante Medina, SPO2 Rizalino Aquino, SPO2 Bienvenido Furog and SPO4 Arthur Lascanas—faced charges for violating the Anti-Torture Law and the law on illegal detention.
The Justice Department, however, dismissed their case.
Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte on Tuesday challenged Matobato to undergo a neurological test to prove he was in his right mind when he testified that the vice mayor ordered the killing of his enemies, including King, the Cebu-based hotelier.
Duterte, the President’s son, said that he has no intention to appear before the Senate to defend himself against the allegations of a “madman” after Senator Antonio Trillanes IV summoned him to appear before the committee on justice to answer Matobato’s allegations against him.
He said that the Senate should check Matobato’s mental health instead.
He also said he had no intention of filing charges against Matobato.
“Why would I file a case against a deranged person? It would be useless,” he said.
He then denied that he knew Matobato personally, saying that he have never met him in his entire life.
“To tell you frankly, Mr. Matobato, I don’t know you!” he said. “I’ve never seen you in this city, not even once.”
Duterte broke his silence on Tuesday to deny the allegations of Matobato that he ordered the killing of his enemies.
“Never in my life have I ordered someone to kill my enemies,” he said. With Sandy Araneta