The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights’ inquiry on drug-related extra-judicial killings resumed on Thursday. As understood by many, the inquiry is on the killings from the time Du30 took over the presidency. But Thursday’s hearing was devoted entirely to the testimony of Edgar Matobato who claims to have been part of a special unit of the police force of Davao City when Du30 was mayor of the city. His testimony was that then Davao Mayor Du30 and then Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte ordered him to kill several people who had crossed the Dutertes. It looked like the surprise appearance of the witness was Sen. De Lima’s ploy to put Du30 in bad light.
As usual the distinguished graduate of Iskul Bukul, Tito Sotto, asked shallow and irrelevant questions like “Are you a ghost employee or 15-30 employee?” Then in angry and impatient tone he asked the representatives of the Commission on Human Rights what they are doing about the violation of human rights of those raped and those forced to take drugs by their own fathers. That was out of order because the inquiry is on killings. Also, the question was more appropriate for Gen de la Rosa and his staff because the CHR’s main function is to investigate violations of human rights by the State (government authority), not by private citizens. Having gotten his ten-minute exposure on national TV, he left the hearing.
Then came Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who is not a member of the committee. As usual, whatever the forum is – be it a Senate inquiry, press conference, or a TV talk show – he defends Du30. He grilled and intimidated the witness to the point of exasperation and infuriation, leading Sen. Sonny Trillanes, his close ally in the Senate investigation of the Binays, to tell him, “Your ambition is foolish and you are defending evil.” While Cayetano has reasons to insinuate that the witness’ appearance was a ploy of de Lima, Cayetano went overboard when he implied that the witness was brought in to bring down Du30. Accusing de Lima of hitting back at Du30 might be acceptable to civil society but accusing the Liberal Party of producing the witness to put down Du30 so the Liberals could retake the government is ridiculous. Before Cayetano was done with his relentless attempt to discredit the witness, Liberal senators Drilon, Angara, and Pangilinan had left the hall.
In the impromptu press conference right after the hearing, Sen. De Lima explained that the witness, who claimed he has been in hiding for fear of being killed by Du30’s operatives because he knew too much, volunteered to “tell all” before he is done away with.