Matobato camp files charges vs. Duterte; new witness set to prove 'Davao Death Squad'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato on Friday filed charges against President Rodrigo Duterte, accusing the then Davao City mayor as the leader of the Davao Death Squad (DDS).

Matobato filed before the Ombudsman a criminal complaint against Duterte for committing murder, kidnapping, torture, genocide, and other crimes against humanity, and for violating international humanitarian laws.

In his complaint-affidavit, Matobato said Duterte formed the vigilante group, "Lambada Boys," which was eventually called "Davao Death Squad," and ordered its police and civilian members to kill suspected criminals in Davao City during his term as mayor.

"Si Mayor Duterte ang pinakamataas at pinaka-lider sa DDS. Ang code name niya sa mga Lambada Boys ay 'Charlie Mike' o 'Harry/Hari'," Matobato said.

[Translation: Mayor Duterte was the highest leader of DDS. His code name among Lambada Boys was Charlie Mike or Harry/Hari.]

Watch: Alleged Duterte hitman faces Senate

Matobato alleged over 1,000 people were killed in Davao City since the DDS was established in 1988 until the time he left the group in 2013.

He claimed Duterte even witnessed the brutal execution of some big-time suspects.

Matobato also filed charges against Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa, former Davao City police chief, and presidential son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte. Matobato earlier said in a Senate inquiry on alleged extrajudicial killings that the son of Duterte also asked the DDS to kill enemies.

The complaint included 25 other alleged members of the supposed death squad, including SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, who earlier appeared in a Senate hearing belying Matobato's claims.

"Gusto kong mabigyan ng hustisya, dahil marami kaming pinatay. May konsensiya pa ako. Hanggang ngayon marami pang pinapatay," Matobato said in his affidavit.

[Translation: I want justice to be served because we killed many people. I have a conscience. Even up to now, many are still being killed.]

Matobato's filing of complaints comes a day after the Senate released its joint committee report, which concluded there was no proof that the Davao Death Squad exists, saying Matobato's testimonies during the legislative hearings were riddled with lies and inconsistencies.

But Atty. Jude Sabio, who filed the complaint in Matobato's behalf, said the Senate inquiry was only in aid of legislation.

"Yun nga ang pinagtatakhan ko dahil sinasabi nila na nagsisinungaling and yet sinasabi naman nila na kasuhan for murder, etc., so ano ba talaga? Nagsisinungaling o hindi?" Sabio said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

Translation: "That's what I am confused about. They said he is lying nad yet they are also saying he should face murder charges, so which is which? Is he lying or not?"

Sabio said they are confident the Ombudsman, an independent constitutional body which investigates cases filed against government leaders, will act on the case.

New witness to testify vs. Duterte

Sabio also said they will present another witness who will corroborate Matobato's claims.

"Nakita niya mismo na binaril ni mayor Duterte yung tao na nagmamakaawa sa kanya na wag barilin ngunit binaril niya at sinabihan niyang traydor ka. Meron pa ngang litratong nakuha," Sabio said.

Translation: "The witness saw Mayor Duterte shot a person pleading for mercy, but Duterte still gunned the person down saying he/she was a traitor. There is even a photo of this."

Sabio refused to name the witness, but disclosed he/she once worked in the Davao City Hall as part of then Mayor Duterte's staff. 

Challenging Duterte's immunity from suit

Matobato's camp wishes to challenge the doctrine of presidential immunity from suit, which says a sitting president should never face civil or criminal charges.

Senator Leila de Lima, who presented Matobato at the Senate hearings, earlier filed a writ of amparo and writ of habeas data against Duterte, calling it a "test case" for his immunity from suit.

But President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Atty. Rosario Setias-Reyes said a sitting President should never be sued even if he is proven guilty of a crime. She said although there is no provision in the 1987 Constitution granting the President immunity from suit, jurisprudence or the principles behind the law establishes it.