Senators smarter than a first grader –Trillanes | Inquirer News

Senators smarter than a first grader –Trillanes

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 05:02 AM September 24, 2016

Senator Antonio Trillanes. AFP FILE PHOTO

Senator Antonio Trillanes. AFP FILE PHOTO

In “badgering” the witness, senators who doubted the testimony of confessed hit man Edgar Matobato only showed that they were “smarter than a first grader,”  Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV  said on Friday.

The usually sharp-tongued senator said his colleagues “took advantage” of Matobato’s weakness in English in pointing out his conflicting testimonies at the resumption of the Senate inquiry into suspected extrajudicial killings in President Duterte’s all-out war on drugs.


Several senators, most of them allies of Mr. Duterte, pointed out several inconsistencies in Matobato’s testimony, including his uncertainty about whether he had heard first-hand then Davao City Mayor  Duterte ordering the killings he had earlier mentioned.


READ: Senators note ‘inconsistencies’ in Matobato testimony

The inquiry resumed on Thursday with Sen. Richard Gordon as the new chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, installed after Sen. Leila de Lima was ousted for her alleged bias in a lopsided vote on Monday.

De Lima had severely criticized the Davao City mayor for his alleged links to the Davao Death Squad when she chaired the Commission on Human Rights.


In a statement, Trillanes said:  “The inconsistencies, if any, were trivial as shown by the transcript. And, despite the badgering, Matobato was consistent about the events and other details he was sure about.”

He added:  “But I must admit, there was a language barrier and a few of my colleagues took advantage of that. They were able to show that they were smarter than (the witness who reached only) Grade 1.”


Trillanes on his own arranged for Matobato’s protective custody after Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, president Mr. Duterte’s party  PDP-Laban, rejected De Lima’s request when she was still committee chair.

De Lima also asserted Matobato’s credibility, saying major details of his testimony remained unchanged despite the challenging questioning he underwent on Thursday.

“Matobato is a very credible witness. No matter how many times he tells his story, the significant and major details of the facts as he remembers them remain consistent. That is the mark of a true witness,” she said.

“I don’t think his credibility was destroyed during yesterday’s grilling. All those senators who tried to take him down were not able to, no matter their condescension to the witness,” De Lima added.


The senator said perfect witness narrations, like those by convicted criminals during the House of Representatives’ inquiry earlier this week, should be the ones doubted.

“A witness who remembers everything perfectly without confusion or mistakes is most probably the coached and rehearsed witness, like those criminal convicts now testifying against me at the House,” De Lima said.

“Compared to them, Matobato is candid and straightforward even under grueling and uninhibited cross-examination, at times with misleading questions that are not even allowed to be asked in a court of law,” she added.

Other senators disagreed.

“I’m not sure anymore which in his testimony is true or not.  I’m sorry for him as well as for my two colleagues,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said, adding that Matobato “would occasionally look to the direction” of Senators De Lima and Trillanes before responding to the questions by the other senators.



Lacson added: “(Matobato) could not make up his mind if he was indeed ordered by Mayor Duterte to kill several people or not.”  He said the witness also changed his tune on “the manner of killing people,” and how several cases the witness had mentioned were readily denied by those involved.

While he scored Matobato, Lacson complimented Sen. Manny Pacquiao for “a splendid interpellation.”  Pacquiao had asked the witness if people should believe someone with flip-flopping statements, and elicited a “no” from Matobato.

“(Pacquiao) exposed a lying witness—one who can’t remember the details of his previous testimony. Indeed, when one is stating the truth, there is no way he can forget.  On the other hand, a coached or a lying witness forgets his narration of events and circumstances over a certain period of time,” Lacson said.

Said Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who was also doubtful of Matobato: “A witness who changed his statements while kept in custody, that’s the one who (has been) coached.”

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara cited the importance of testing Matobato’s credibility.

“He made really grave accusations, but in my view, it looks like he had many inconsistencies that did not match his statements in the previous hearings,” Angara said in a statement after Thursday’s proceedings.

“Still, let us allow the committee to make its decision on the course of action it would recommend. It is important that the public keeps watch and stays vigilant on this issue,” he added. TVJ



De Lima notes irony: Are drug convicts now admin allies?

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