Duterte vs De Lima: How will it end?

There is an on-going fierce battle between the President and Senator Leila de Lima. How it will end is anybody’s guess. Each one has thrown accusations at each other.

Duterte has accused De Lima of having a boyfriend who is a drug pusher while the senator has presented in a senate hearing Edgar Matobato, an alleged member of the so-called “Davao Death Squad” (DDS).

In a testimony during the senate hearing, Matobato said that he was hired by then Mayor Duterte to kill several individuals in the latter’s attempt to clean up Davao of criminal elements. A summary of Matobato’s allegations is published on page 12. Of course, prior to his litany of admitted killings, Matobato was under oath to tell the truth and only the truth. Senator Panfilo Lacson warned Matobato that he could be held liable for murder.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, a known ally of President Duterte said that Matobato’s testimony “were 100 per cent lies.” How could Cayetano determine that the witness was lying when the events happened in Davao 28 years ago and he was not even a senator at that time?

Ramon Tulfo, a Daily Inquirer columnist who pushed for the candidacy of Duterte wrote in his column that Edgar Matobato was a coached witness of Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes.

Matobato said that it was way back in 1988 that he was personally hired by then Mayor Duterte as one of the “Lambado Boys” which evolved into the DDS. That was 28 years ago but he still remembered. There appeared to be no notes that he read. The witness continued to narrate what he remembered without being prompted by anyone in the chamber. Surely, a person who has killed several people will remember the names and faces of those he has killed. It might have caused him nightmares and sleepless nights at first but eventually his deeds became routine and must have numbed his conscience. Nevertheless, murder is murder and cannot easily be forgotten. But then again, when asked what prompted him to surface, Matobato answered that it was his conscience.

Bato del Rosario, Duterte’s appointed Chief of the Philippine National Police has denied ever knowing Matobato, claiming that it was only during the senate hearing that they have met. But the latter also said that he was a member of Davao City Police for 34 years. How is it possible that the two police officers never met? More glaring is the fact that when asked by media to comment on Matobato’s declarations, the Philippine President had nothing to say. Is his silence an admission of the truth?

According to a facebook post by  Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñon, a member of his cabinet, Duterte was willing to hire “hatchet men” or mercenaries to end the Abu Sayyaf menace in the country. So what’s the difference between the Davao Death Squad and mercenaries that Duterte wants to hire?

“Rich or poor, I do not give a sh*t,” Duterte said during a recent press conference. “My order is to destroy [drug pushers].” — DMC