MANILA — Sixteen out of more than 20 police officers from Davao City allegedly linked to the so-called vigilante group Davao Death Squad (DDS) were present at the Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings Monday.
The Davao City cops, who were previously members of the city’s Heinous Crimes Division, were earlier cited by witness, self-confessed DDS hitman Edgar Matobato, in a previous hearing as responsible for unresolved killings in the city.
Matobato claimed that these Davao City cops took orders from then mayor now President Rodrigo Duterte and his right-hand-man, SPO3 Arthur Lascañas.
The inquiry was led by Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, Chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights. Present were Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Dir. Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, PNP-Internal Affairs Service (IAS) Leo Angelo Leuterio, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Dir. Gen. Isidro Lapeña, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Dir. Dante Gierran among others.
Retired Police Sr. Supt. Dionisio Abude, who was head of the Davao City Heinous Crimes Division from Jan. 15, 2003 until March 8, 2006, was among the first to testify against Matobato’s claims.
Abude began his testimony by showing a seven-minute video presentation, which featured him as a judge for a sports contest, Pinoy Hero, hosted by a popular energy drink company in 2012.
He later gave a rundown of some of their police operations, which involved wanted suspects who could have died but lived because cops saved them, bringing them to the hospital after they were injured.
Contrary to Matobato’s testimony, Abude said he was not yet assigned as Heinous Crimes Division head when a meeting between him and then Mayor Duterte took place in 2002.
He also denied that the Heinous Crimes Division killed people without due process.
“We are not into killing but we are there to conduct investigation, surveillance and if we have the opportunity to implement the warrant of arrest of those wanted persons,” Abude said.
Senator Leila de Lima was one of the first to question Abude, asking him how he knew Matobato. Abude said he knew Matobato as a cousin of fellow police officer, retired Police Supt. Eduardo “Eddie” Matobato.
Abude claimed they were colleagues at the San Pedro police station. He also denied the existence of the DDS but admitted that he has heard about it in the news.
De Lima cited records that showed that Abude and several other high-ranking cops were previously penalized by the Ombudsman for some 720 unresolved killings in Davao City.
Abude however stood by his claim that all cases that transpired were properly investigated.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, a staunch supporter of President Duterte, pointed out anew that there were extrajudicial killings during the previous administration, however, no case was filed against police officers.
The hearing is ongoing as of posting time. Azer Parrocha/PNA-northboundasia.com