Senator Cayetano refutes Trillanes on Matobato testimony

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Senator Alan Peter Cayetano chided Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for insisting on the credibility of self-confessed Davao Death Squad member Edgar Matobato, pointing out that the witness' testimony against President Rodrigo Duterte is riddled with "half-truths and mere hearsay."

Trillanes delivered a privilege speech on Monday (September 26) to disprove the inconsistencies of Matobato's accounts during the Committee on Justice and Human Rights' probe into the alleged extrajudicial killings being linked to the administration's war on drugs.

During his interpellation, Cayetano called out Trillanes for trying to portray Matobato as a credible witness in the ongoing inquiry.

"Senator Trillanes chose it upon himself to make assumptions that Matobato is a credible witness... Either we have a mass murderer as a president or we have mass liars as his critics. Hayaan natin ang publiko ang makinig," Cayetano said, responding to Trillanes' description of the country's President as a "mass murderer."

Cayetano countered claims made by Trillanes regarding Matobato's statements, which he said are full of contradictions.

"I bring up the concept of half-truths because that is what criminals use. This is what people... who destroy the credibility of others use. I say this because the presentation of Senator Trillanes is full of half-truths," Cayetano said.

"Every time we look at Matobato's testimony, he jumps from pretending to have personal knowledge to [mere] hearsay," he added.

The senator asserted that the inconsistencies in Matobato's testimonies are not just minor details, contrary to what Trillanes was trying to depict in his speech.

To prove his point, Cayetano drew attention to the "glaring" differences between the witness' accounts in the hearings and the sworn statement that he submitted in 2014, when he was placed under the Justice Department's Witness Protection Program (WPP).

In Matobato's sworn statement, he recounted how Cebuano businessman Richard King was killed by a certain SPO2 Reynante Medina. During the committee hearing, however, he said King was actually killed by two rebel returnees whom he identified as Joel "Turko" Tapales and Loloy Gabas.

"Tadtad ng inconsistencies ang testimonya ni Mr. Matobato. Even noong sinabi niyang sa McDonald's pinatay [referring to King's death], hearsay na nga, mali pa. Kasi hindi naman siya ang pumatay, narinig lang niya sa iba, tapos mali pa," Cayetano stressed.

He added that Matobato also flip-flopped on his narration of how suspected terrorist Sali Makdum was killed. In his sworn statement, Matobato said how Makdum was brought to a burial site where they slit his throat and took turns in stabbing him to death. But during the hearing, the witness changed his testimony once again and said they hanged Makdum and chopped his body to pieces.

"[Senator Trillanes'] presentation seems to paste things together to make it appear that [the witness'] inconsistencies were minor. But when you change the name of the persons who killed [the victims], or when you change how the [victims] were killed... it is very different," Cayetano stressed.

"Nothing has changed. Most of Mr. Matobato's testimonies are just hearsay. Those that are not hearsay are inconsistent to the point that they will not stand in any court of law," he further noted.

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