DAVAO CITY — The Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 3, Judge Silverio Mandalupe, released Thursday the warrant of arrest for self-confessed member of the Davao Death Squad (DDS) Edgar Matobato.
The Investigation Division Management Board (IDMB) received the arrest order for Matobato Thursday morning but it was signed by Judge Mandalupe on October 4, the day the self-confessed hitman and his legal counsel failed to appear before the court for arraignment on his case of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on June 20, 2014 docketed as criminal case 150,292-C-2014.
Mandalupe ordered the police to arrest Matobato wherever he may be found in the Philippines. The judge set the bail of Matobato at P2,000 which may be deposited in the nearest collection city or municipal Internal Revenue for his temporary liberty.
Contrary to the statement of Senator Antonio Trillanes that the timing of Matobato’s arrest is suspicious, the court has previously scheduled arraignments for Matobato but canceled them because he was under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the Department of Justice.
”The timing is highly suspicious because this has been running for two years and suddenly they set for an arraignment on Tuesday when there was a scheduled hearing here also,” Trillanes was quoted as saying in a report.
Trillanes said he is willing to hold custody of Matobato even if the Senate committee on justice and human rights no longer needed him to testify.
It may be recalled that Matobato was out on bail for the same case but his failure to appear for the arraignment prompted Mandalupe to forfeit the P2,000 bailbond posted by Matobato on June 30, 2014.
Matobato was arrested on June 19, 2014 following an information from a concerned citizen that one alias Edgar was carrying a firearm outside his residence in Familia Sagrada Km.12 Sasa, this city.
Then 56 years old, Matobato identified himself as a private bodyguard and a resident of Km.12 Sagrada Familia, Sasa. During his arrest, police authorities seized from his possession a Colt .45 caliber pistol, three pieces magazine loaded with 29 rounds of ammunition and an expired firearm’s license card. Matobato possessed a permit to carry obtained from PNP Camp Crame but it was only valid from December 5 to 11, 2012.
The illegal possession of firearms and ammunition is just one of the cases filed against Matobato who has also a pending case on the kidnapping of Sali Makdum in the Island Garden City of Samal.
Last September 23, a retired adjudicator of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for Southern Mindanao Abeto Salcedo filed frustrated murder case against Matobato after seeing him on the televised Senate hearing. Salcedo recognized Matobato as the man who tried to kill him.
Salcedo identified Matobato as the gunman who shot him at close range as he was emerging from the DAR provincial office in Digos City on October 24, 2014. Salcedo survived from three gunshot wounds he sustained in that attack. He said he could not be mistaken on Matobato because it was only his car’s window that separated them. Lilian Mellejor/PNA-northboundasia.com