Death squad secrets of Philippine president revealed

Death squad secrets of Philippine president revealed

Former hitman revealing secrets about how the Davao Death Squad was led by current President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte during Senate hearing (Source: YouTube)
Former hitman revealing secrets about how the Davao Death Squad was led by current President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte during Senate hearing (Source: YouTube)

Fed to crocodiles, burned, strangled, dumped at sea, 1,000 people killed over 25 years on order of mayor turned president, former hitman reveals.


Death squad secrets of Philippine president revealed

AFP News agency

In his past life as a mayor in the provinces Rodrigo Duterte, currently president of the Philippines, shot dead a justice department employee and ordered the murder of opponents.

These new revelations came from a former death squad hitman presenting testimony to a senate hearing on Thursday, in explosive allegations against the Philippine president.

Duterte, who took office more than two months ago, won May presidential elections in the Philippines in a landslide victory on a promise to kill thousands of criminals.

Video on Davao Death Squad from 2009 produced by Al Jazeera:


The self-described assassin told a Senate hearing that he and a group of policemen and ex- communist rebels killed about 1,000 people over 25 years on Duterte's orders.

One of them was even fed alive to a crocodile.

Many of the others were garroted, burned, quartered and then buried at a quarry owned by a police officer who was a member of the death squad.

Others were dumped at sea to be eaten by fish.


Edgar Matobato, 57, made the allegations before the Senate, which is investigating alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte's anti -crime crackdown that police said have left 3,140 people dead in his first 72 days in office.

The then head of the Commission on Human Rights, Senator Leila de Lima, told the inquiry Matobato had surrendered to the investigative body in 2009 and had until recently been in a witness protection program.


Matobato said that in 1993, he and other members of the death squad were on a mission when they approached a road blocked by the vehicle of an agent from the justice department's National Bureau of Investigation.

A confrontation degenerated into a shootout.

Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of the southern city of Davao at the time, then arrived on the scene, Matobato said.

"Mayor Duterte was the one who finished him off."

"Jamisola (the justice department official) was still alive when he (Duterte) arrived."

"He emptied two Uzi magazines on him."


His testimony fleshed out in gruesome detail for the first time long-running allegations that Duterte was behind a death squad that killed more than a thousand people in Davao, where he was mayor for most of the past two decades.

"Our job was to kill criminals, rapists, pushers [drug dealers], and snatchers [purse snatchers]. That's what we did. We killed people almost on a daily basis," said Matobato.

He said they killed mainly criminal suspects and personal enemies of the Duterte family between 1988 and 2013.


The former hitman Matobato said the death squad received their orders either directly from Duterte or from active-duty Davao police officers assigned to the the mayor's office.

Many of the victims were abducted by members of the group who introduced themselves as police officers, then taken to a local quarry where they were killed and buried, he added.

"The officers told us ordinary killings won't do. They are sadists," he said, describing to de Lima how the victims were strangled.

"Then we'd remove their clothes, burn the bodies and chop them up," Matobato said, adding that he had personally killed "about 50" of the victims.

The bodies of other victims were disembowelled and dropped at sea to be eaten by fish, while others were left on Davao streets, their hands made to clutch a handgun [pistol], he added.

One of the victims was a foreign man suspected of being an "international terrorist", another was the boyfriend of Duterte's sister.

One was a local broadcaster who constantly criticised Duterte, four were bodyguards of a local rival, while two were enemies of Duterte's son Paolo, who is now Davao vice mayor, Matobato said.

De Lima said the rights body later dug up several skeletons of unidentified people at the Davao quarry.


De Lima, also a former justice secretary, said Matobato was put under the witness protection programme.

However Matobato said he left the programme and went into hiding, fearing for his life when Duterte won the presidency.

Asked why he left the death squad, he replied: "I am bothered by my conscience."


Duterte's spokesman said the allegations had already been investigated without charges being filed.

Duterte's son Paolo Duterte, called the testimony "mere hearsay" of "a madman".

Duterte's spokesman, Martin Andanar, said he doubted that the then mayor could have ordered the killing of 1,000 people.

"I don't think he's capable of giving a directive like that. The Commission on Human Rights already investigated this a long time ago and no charges were filed," he said.

Another spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said the allegations needed to be properly scrutinised.

"Whatever testimonies, statements that the chairperson (of the Senate committee) are saying, we will have to have a proper investigation regarding that."

However, there have been many investigations into extrajudicial killings in the past, even by the Supreme Court of the Philippines and one criticism of these investigations is that they never resulted in legal action taken against the guilty parties (see here, here & here)


Here is a documentary video on the death squad of Tagum City, slightly to the north of Davao, also run by the city's mayor in the past:

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  • abduct: to take somebody away illegally, especially using force - ลักพาตัว
  • active-duty: police, soldiers or pilots working at their job, not off-duty or retired -
  • allegations (noun): accusations - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • alleged: claimed to be true although not yet proven; claimed to have done something wrong but not yet proven - ที่ถูกกล่าวหา
  • anti (adjective): against - ตรงกันข้าม, ต้าน
  • assassin: a hired killer; a person hired to kill with a gun; a hitman - มือปืน
  • assign: to give a person a particular task or position - มอบหมาย, สั่งงาน
  • body: a group of people who work or act together, often for an official purpose, or who are connected in some other way - กลุ่มคน, นิติบุคคล
  • bothered: worried, angry or sad about something   - วิตกกังวล หงุดหงิด
  • broadcaster: a person whose job is presenting or talking on television or radio programmes - ผู้กระจายเสียงทางวิทยุหรือโทรทัศน์
  • buried (verb): covered completely by something - ฝัง
  • chop: to cut something into pieces with a sharp tool such as a knife - สับ, หั่นเป็นชิ้นๆ, ตัดเป็นชิ้น
  • clutch: to hold something tightly - จับแน่น
  • commission: a group of people who have been formally chosen to discover information about a problem or examine the reasons why the problem exists - คณะกรรมการ, คณะกรรมาธิการ
  • conscience: the part of your mind that tells you whether your actions are right or wrong - สัมปชัญญะ
  • crackdown: strong action that someone in authority takes to stop a particular activity - การใช้กำลังเข้าปราบปรามของเจ้าหน้าที่
  • criminal: someone who has committed a crime, i.e., someone who has carried out an illegal activity or action - ผู้ที่ทำผิดกฎหมาย
  • criminals (noun): people who have committed a crime, i.e., people who have carried out an illegal activity or action - ผู้ที่ทำผิดกฎหมาย
  • criticised: receiving words of disapproval over something that you have supposedly done wrong - ถูกวิจารณ์, โดนว่า
  • crocodile (noun): a large animal (reptile) with a long body, a long mouth and many sharp teeth, that lives in the water in hot countries - จระเข้
  • currently: at this time; now - ในปัจจุบัน
  • death squad: a gang of people who secretly kill people -
  • decades: periods of ten years - เป็นสิบๆปี
  • detail (noun): the small facts or features of something - รายละเอียด, ส่วนเล็กๆ น้อยๆ, ส่วนย่อย
  • directly (adv): in a direct line or manner; immediately - โดยตรง, ทันที
  • drug dealer: a person who sells (illegal drugs in this case) - ผู้จำหน่าย
  • dump: to abandon; to stop doing an activity before you have finished it - เลิก
  • election (noun): the process of choosing a person or a group of person for a position, especially by voting - การเลือกตั้ง
  • enemy: a person who hates somebody or who acts or speaks against somebody/something - ศัตรู
  • ex-: former - อดีต, ก่อนหน้า
  • explosive (adj): in a way that is likely to strong feelings of anger or hatred - ซึ่งสามารถระเบิดได้, รุนแรง
  • extrajudicial killing: a killing (normally carried out by police and often in self defence) that has not been officially approved by a court - วิสามัญฆาตกรรม
  • fleshed out: to give the details of a plan, project, etc. -
  • former: of or in an earlier time; before the present time or in the past - อดีต, แต่ก่อน
  • garrot: killing a person by strangling them with a rope, cord or wire; was used in Spain -
  • gruesome: involving or describing death or injury in a very unpleasant way - น่ากลัว น่ารังเกียจ
  • hiding: putting something in a place where it cannot be seen; to keep something secret - ซ่อน, ซุกซ่อน, ปกปิด
  • hitman: a person who is paid to kill someone - นักฆ่ามืออาชีพที่ใช้ปืนเป็นอาวุธ
  • human rights: the basic rights which it is generally considered all people should have, such as justice and the freedom to say what you think - สิทธิมนุษยชน
  • inquiry: a question intended to get information about someone or something - การไต่สวน
  • international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ
  • investigate: to try to find out the facts about something in order to learn the truth about it - ตรวจสอบหาความจริง
  • investigative: involving the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened - เกี่ยวกับการสืบสวน, เกี่ยวกับการตรวจสอบหาความจริง
  • justice department: justice ministry, the ministry in charge of the criminal justice system in Thaialnd. As well as running prisons and aiding the Royal Thai Police, the ministry also run the government's drug and narcotic control policies - กระทรวงยุติธรรม
  • justice secretary: secretary of justice; justice minister; The minister who heads the Ministry of Justice - รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงกระทรวงยุติธรรม
  • landslide victory: an election victory by a very large margin or amount - การชนะการเลือกตั้งแบบขาดลอย
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • long-running: some entertainment such as a TV series or film series that has been going on and existed for a long time -
  • mayor: the most important elected official in a town or city - นายกเทศมนตรี
  • murder (noun): the crime of intentionally killing a person - ฆาตกรรม
  • on a daily basis: happening every day -
  • opponent: someone who disagrees with you or who is competing against you - ผู้ไม่เห็นด้วยกับ, ฝ่ายตรงข้าม
  • order (noun): something that somebody is told to do by somebody in authority - คำสั่ง
  • ordinary: not unusual or different in any way - ธรรมดา, ปกติ
  • parliamentary (adj): connected with a parliament, a law-making body - เกี่ยวกับรัฐสภา
  • personal: your own; not belonging to or connected with anyone else - เป็นส่วนตัว
  • personally: used for saying that you talking about yourself or are giving your own opinion - โดยส่วนตัว
  • pistol: a small gun that you hold in one hand - ปืนพก,ปืนสั้น
  • presidency (noun): the job of being president of a country or an organization; the period of time somebody holds this job - ตำแหน่งประธานาธิบดี
  • promise (noun): a statement that tells somebody that you will definitely do or not do something - คำสัญญา, คำมั่นสัญญา
  • protection: the act of protecting somebody/something; the state of being protected - การอารักขา, การปกป้อง
  • province: one of many divisions of the government of a country into smaller parts - จังหวัด
  • purse (noun): a small bag made of leather, plastic, etc. for carrying coins and often also paper money, cards, etc, used especially by women - กระเป๋าใส่เงินขนาดเล็ก
  • purse snatcher: a thief who grabs the purse that women carries and runs away with it -
  • quarry (noun): a place where large amounts of stone, etc. are dug out of the ground - เหมืองหิน
  • quarter: to kill a person by cutting their body into four pieces; a form of execution used for the crime of treason in the past -
  • rapist: someone who commits the crime of forcing someone to have sex -
  • rebel: a person who opposes somebody in authority over them within an organization, a political party, etc; a person who does not like to obey rules or who does not accept normal standards of behaviour - คนขัดขืน, คนหัวรั้น
  • revelation: a surprising piece of information - การเปิดเผย
  • right: something that you are morally or legally allowed to do or have - สิทธิ
  • rival: a person you are competing against or opposing - คู่แข่ง
  • self-described: to tell other people what you are, to describe yourself to others -
  • Senate: one of the two groups of politicians who make laws in some countries, for example in the US, Australia, Canada and Thailand - วุฒิสภา
  • skeleton: the structure of bones that supports the body of a person or an animal - โครงกระดูก
  • spokesman: a person who speaks on behalf of a group or an organization - โฆษก
  • strangle: to kill somebody by squeezing or pressing on their throat and neck - ฆ่าโดยการบีบคอ
  • surrender: to give yourself up - ยอมแพ้ ยอมจำนน
  • suspect: a person who is thought to have committed a crime - ผู้ต้องสงสัย
  • terrorist: of someone who uses violence in order to  achieve political aims - ผู้ก่อการร้าย
  • testimony: a formal statement about something that you say, know or experienced, usually given to a court of law - คำให้การ
  • victim: someone who has been affected by a bad situation, such as a disaster, illness or an accident - เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
  • witness: someone who tells a court or investigators what they know about a crime or other legal case. - พยาน
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