Day 4 of the Senate hearing on EJKs under the new committee chairman, Senator Dick Gordon, has been the most interesting so far, but the foreign media oddly did not report much about it.
Is it because they don’t want people to know that Edgar Matobato has backflipped on nearly everything he said?
Since the media are not reporting the details of Matobato’s about-face, let’s recap the highlights here. Here’s the link to a recording of the whole Day 4 hearing. The juicy parts are really worth watching.
HIGHLIGHT #1: Sali Makdum
Senator Alan Cayetano showed a CNN Philippines video where residents from Matobato’s old village in Samal talked about “Sali Makdum”, the supposed high-value international terrorist that Matobato said he killed for the Davao Death Squad (DDS). Watch the CNN Phils report on the 1:30:30 mark of the video above, and see why the yellow media are quiet on this.
It turns out Makdum was not an international terrorist, but a Turkish national who lived in Matobato’s village, and was married to his wife’s cousin!
According to the interviewees in the report, Matobato brokered a deal to sell land to Makdum. Makdum was ready to pay. They agreed to meet in a carinderia. But when Matobato came, he had other men with him, and they took Makdum away. Makdum was never seen again.
Cayetano asked Matobato if the video report was true. Matobato said yes, but he denied some parts. Matobato then re-told the story of how he killed Makdum, but this time he changed the part about bringing Makdum to the PAOCTF office “kasi wala ng PAOCTF noon, office na lang”. Muffled laughter can be heard from the audience. This was the exact same line a certain senator used last week while defending Matobato’s inconsistencies. Yet this senator still wants us to believe he/she is not coaching Matobato.
Since the CNN Phils video pretty much proved Makdum was just a regular person from Matobato’s village and not a notorious international terrorist as he claimed last week, Matobato did a hasty 360-degree turn and said it was not Duterte who ordered the killing of Makdum. This was a major reversal, so Trillanes jumped to the rescue and said Matobato never directly stated in his first testimony that Duterte was the one who ordered the killing of Makdum.
Why then, Cayetano asked, was Makdum killed? Matobato said he didn’t know, because his bosses never tell him anything about the people they ask him to kill.
HIGHLIGHT #2: The 2014 NBI affidavit
Cayetano asked Matobato if there was ever any time he executed any affidavit for the government. Matobato said no. Cayetano asked if he was sure. Yes, he said.
But a couple of NBI officials present said Matobato actually executed an affidavit on Sept 4, 2014 when he went to the NBI to file a complaint against policemen who supposedly tortured him because he wanted to leave the DDS. The NBI officials produced a copy of Matobato’s 2014 affidavit, and Cayetano went over to show it to him.
The 2014 affidavit was not part of De Lima’s script. She leaped to the podium and started objecting. Her compulsive, wave-wave/close-open/close-open hand gestures were even more frenetic than usual (notice she does these hand movements whenever she’s caught off-guard and needs to come up with impromptu excuses to explain things away). Gordon said to her, “Kaya nga may abogado siya eh, can you please give me some latitude here?” She sat back down.
The lawyer sitting beside Matobato went over his 2014 NBI affidavit with him. Watch what happened next from the 2:29:55 mark of the video above. It’s a must-see.
Cayetano read aloud from Matobato’s 2014 affidavit, where Matobato said Sali Makdum was a Pakistani national who was ordered killed by Rodrigo Duterte.
Cayetano asked Matobato why he said this in the 2014 affidavit, when just a while ago after the CNN Phils video was played, he said it was not Duterte who ordered the killing. Stumped, Matobato gave a jumbled, indefinite response.
Cayetano also pointed out that, in the the 2014 NBI affidavit, Matobato said Makdum was an international terrorist behind a bombing in General Santos City, and that was the reason why he was ordered killed. But just a while ago, right after the CNN Phils video was played, Matobato claimed he had no idea why Makdum was killed, because his bosses never tell him anything.
The people from Matabato’s village in the CNN Philippines video, on the other hand, pointed to a land deal as the likely reason why Matobato killed Makdum. If this is true—and the villagers have no reason to lie—it means Matobato told two different lies in his 2014 NBI affidavit and his testimony at the Senate last week.
He might have done this so he would appear more like an important government assassin rather than a lowly budget killer-for-hire.
Pants on fire, Matobato changed his story—again. He said he just “forgot” about the Gen San bombing. How can a person forget a major bombing incident that was supposedly the reason why he had to kill a member of his extended family? Matobato had told so many lies, even he was getting confused.
HIGHLIGHT #3: The Nograles bodyguards
Senator Cayetano asked Matobato why, in his testimony last week, he claimed that he killed the bodyguards of Prospero Nograles under Duterte’s orders in 2010, but the Nograles family denied this. Matobato changed his story again. He said the men he killed were not actually bodyguards of Nograles, but men of Gen. Palparan and Gen. Martillano who were detailed to Nograles.
Toward the end of the hearing, after Matobato was already dismissed, Senator Ping Lacson announced that he received a text from Gen. Martillano. Martillano said that as of 2009, he was already with PASG (Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group) and he had no security men detailed to Nograles.
HIGHLIGHT #4: The Salcedo shooting
Senator Angara asked when was the last time Matobato shot someone. Matobato said 2013. But Senator Lacson said he heard that a former DAR official named Abeto Salcedo saw Matobato on TV when he testified last week, and recognized him as the man who shot him in October 2014 in Cagayan de Oro. The cartographic sketch of the shooter from the incident even looks like Matobato.
Matobato denied he was the shooter. He said he was already in Manila in the DOJ’s witness protection program as early as Sept 2014 when he first went to see De Lima. However, in an earlier part of the hearing, the NBI officials present said Matobato was admitted to the DOJ’s witness protection program on Nov 25, 2014.
Is it possible that Matobato was still roaming freely in October 2014, even though he already met De Lima at the DOJ in September 2014? The senators asked the NBI to verify exactly when Matobato was put in a safehouse as part of the WPP. Meanwhile, Abeto Salcedo already filed murder charges against Matobato yesterday. (read here). Abangan.
HIGHLIGHT #5: Drama from De Lima, Trililing from Trillanes
When it was her turn to cross-examine, De Lima continued to ask leading questions to extract her preferred responses from Matobato. She was practically testifying for Matobato, all he had to do was confirm her statements with Yes or No.
There was a part where De Lima even seemed to be signalling to Matobato. When Gordon asked Matobato when was the first time he met De Lima, Matobato hesitated and didn’t answer immediately. He looked at De Lima and De Lima can be seen pointing her index finger downwards. When Matobato still couldn’t answer, she said, “Ngayong taon lang, di ba?” Matobato then nodded and said, “Oo, ngayong taon.”
Trillanes, on the other hand, played the sympathy card and made Matobato give a teary account of how his father was killed by the NPA. The yellows should have used Risa Hontiveros for this part. Trillanes is miscast for the role of Charo Santos. He also forgot to play the background music of Maalaala Mo Kaya.
Both De Lima and Trillanes tried to play up the fact that Matobato has a job order document that proves he was an employee of the Davao city hall. To them, this is a “smoking gun”, because if you are a mayor and you have a secret team of killers that you don’t want anyone to know about, you should give them official payroll ATM cards from Landbank, pay their salary directly from the city government’s account, and give them signed job contracts and payslips so the COA (Commission on Audit) can easily trace them to you. Makes perfect sense, right?
De Lima and Trillanes had to be reprimanded several times by Senator Gordon because they kept interjecting and lawyering for Matobato. When De Lima criticized the interrogation style of Gordon himself, Gordon told her, “We’re all lawyers here. I don’t want to lecture other lawyers. I don’t want to be lectured either.”
De Lima could be seen crossing her arms, scowling, and sort of rolling her eyes while Gordon was talking. It’s really amazing how this pudgy old matron with sausage hands and bad diction (“diczzzion”) thinks she’s superior to everybody else. No wonder she immediately assumed DOJ Sec. Vitalino Aguirre was referring to Noynoy Aquino when Aguirre said a yellow official higher than De Lima might be involved in the Bilibid drug trade. In De Lima’s mind, only Noynoy Aquino (“my president”, she said) was higher than her during the previous admin. There were others much higher than her based on constitutional succession alone, but it seems De Lima always wants to be the “bida”, even when it comes to the title of numero uno drug protector of the yellows.
Not to be outdone, Trillanes also tried to heckle a senator who is infinitely superior to him. When Senator Lacson was probing why Matobato changed his story from being a member of the CAFGU to being a member of the CHDF after the military said there was no record of him as a CAFGU, Trillanes accused Lacson of trying to confuse Matobato. Lacson reacted in his usual dry, deadpan way. Gordon told Trillanes to stop making side comments in front of the witness. Gordon then suspended the proceedings for a few minutes to reign in De Lima and Trillanes. Trillanes went to Lacson to apologize, but Lacson’s poker face hardly moved. Trillanes scuttled away like a rejected stray dog.
Trillanes also lobbied to have Paolo Duterte summoned to the next Senate hearing based solely on Matobato’s claim that Paolo Duterte ordered him to kill someone once. Who? Not Richard King, Matobato already backtracked on that after the King family issued a denial. Basta, someone. No name. Remember, Matobato’s superiors never tell him anything. So, he doesn’t have to give names to prove his claims. How convenient.
Why is Trillanes fixated on Paolo Duterte? He is probably gearing up to reprise the bullying and humiliation tactics he perfected on the late Angelo Reyes and the late Chief Justice Corona. Will the senators give Trillanes another opportunity to defile the Senate with his homicidal Trililing? Abangan.
Matobato’s credibility was in shambles by the end of the hearing, so De Lima maneuvered to line up a new cast of characters for the next episode. She asked for all the “DDS” police officers named by Matobato to be brought to the next hearing. Gordon and Lacson said this was possible, but they would have to be presented in an executive session, and mixed with other people to see if Matobato could really identify them. Not sure what the point is of doing this. De Lima and Trillanes can easily get pictures of these police officers and make sure Matobato studies them before he is asked to identify them.
Meanwhile, how many more hours of the senators’ time do they plan to waste on this ridiculous farce, while far more urgent matters are left unattended? How much more of taxpayers’ money do they plan to waste listening to a lying, low-level mass murderer that De Lima and Trillanes are trying to put on a pedestal?
Please do your duty, distinguished senators. At least 90% of Filipinos don’t care about Trillanes and De Lima, and least of all, Matobato. Stop demeaning yourselves by humoring them, and please get back to work.
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