Human Rights Watch: Let U.N. lead investigation of Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — An international human rights watchdog urged the Philippines to probe President Rodrigo Duterte on his alleged involvement in summary killings - and let the United Nations (U.N.) lead the investigation.

"The detailed testimony from a 'death squad' member that then-Mayor Duterte was personally involved in killings and ordered others are very serious allegations that require an independent investigation," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement Friday.

Duterte is accused of ordering the killings of Muslims, rivals, and criminals during his more than two decades of reign as mayor in Davao City.

Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed "hit man" and former member of the alleged Davao Death Squad told a Senate inquiry on Thursday that Duterte and his son, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte asked the group to kill around 1,000 people from 1988 to 2013.

Also read: 'Accusations of a madman': Paolo Duterte slams Matobato's claims

"President Duterte can't be expected to investigate himself, so it is crucial that the United Nations is called in to lead such an effort," Adams said. 

"Otherwise, Filipinos may never know if the president was directly responsible for extrajudicial killings," Adams added.

Malacañang on Thursday said the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) already investigated then Mayor Duterte and filed no charges against him.

It also belied Matobato's claims and called on the public to properly weigh his statements.

Related: Malacañang denies Motabato's claims

Cayetano: No DDS

The HRW in 2009 said there were 124 targeted killings in Davao City from 1998 to 2008 alone.

It published a 103-page report which includes accounts of people with insider knowledge of the so-called Davao Death Squad, the victims' families, witnesses, lawyers and local government officials.

It also called on the CHR to investigate Duterte and other government officials allegedly involved in death squad killings. 

But the Office of the Ombudsman early this year wrote a letter to CHR chairman Chito Gascon dismissing the alleged involvement of Duterte and police officials in Davao City.

It said "there is no evidence to support the killings attributed to or attributable to the DDS."

This was also the document read by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as he grilled Matobato over the DDS' existence.

But Matobato, a witness in an ongoing Senate probe on extra-judicial killings, maintained the death squad exists, and said he was one of its members until he quit in 2013.

Related: Cayetano doubts, De Lima stands by Matobato's credibility