Local Filipino

Senator Pimentel ‘Evicts’ Witness Matobato


Philippines — Self confessed hitman Edgar Matobato was “evicted” from the Senate after Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III denied the committee on justice and human rights’ request to place him under protective custody, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Thursday evening.

“He was ordered evicted, Hindi namin siya pababayaan (We will look after him),” Trillanes said.

While a five-hour committee hearing on the spate of drug deaths under the administration’s war on drugs, in his testimony, Matobato named Mr. Duterte, his eldest son Davao City Mayor Paolo Duterte, and several police and local officials in the Davao Death Squad, saying they had ordered or participated in the killing of more than 1,000 people from 1988 to 2013.

Trillanes had requested the Senate to provide a “sanctuary” for Matobato within Senate grounds, as his life is under threat given the gravity of his allegations against the President.

His office later told reporters that the Senate President rejected the request.

“Sen. Pimentel’s office has just informed us that he has denied the committee’s request for Senate custody of Mr. Edgar Matobato,” read Trillanes’ statement sent out by his staff.

With the update, the office of committee chair Sen. Leila de Lima swiftly sent a letter to Pimentel’s office formally making the request.

“To deprive our witness the benefit of the Senate’s protective custody can only mean the denial of our only chance and opportunity to get to the bottom of all the extra-judicial killings in a legal manner, instead of providing justification for any adventurist impulse provoked among our more aggressive countrymen by the nature of the witness’ testimony,” De Lima in her letter, which reached Senator Pimentel’s office around 6:15 p.m.

“Needless to say, based on the nature of the information that Mr. Matobato presented during the hearing, the committee is of the belief that there is a serious threat to his life pending the completion of his testimony,” she said.

Pimentel has not responded to requests for comment as of this writing.

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