Duterte dropped as respondent from Matobato complaint – source
President Duterte has been dropped as a respondent in the murder complaints filed by self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato in the Office of the Ombudsman.
A well-placed source confirmed this development to reporters, as fact-finding investigators who gathered evidence to build up the case initiated a formal complaint for preliminary investigation.
At the preliminary investigation stage, the respondents are allowed to refute the allegations. Afterwards, the Ombudsman decides if there is probable cause to file appropriate charges for a court trial.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, however, only confirmed in a Thursday interview that “it came to my knowledge that preliminary investigation has set in.”
She did not answer when asked during the chance interview if and why Mr. Duterte was dropped from the case.
But, she reiterated that she had inhibited herself, because “one of those who were charged by Matobato was the President, so naturally I inhibited.”
Mr. Duterte is a relative by marriage, as Morales’ nephew Manases Carpio is the husband of his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
The source said Mr. Duterte was not included as respondent in the murder case involving the 2003 killing of broadcaster Jun Pala and the kidnapping with murder case involving the 1993 killing of Jun Bersabal, identified as a member of a religious group.
A third case, which did not involve Mr. Duterte, concerned the alleged torture of Matobato by a group of policemen led by Senior Police Officer 1 Reynante Medina.
Sought for comment, Matobato’s lawyer Jude Sabio said he was also informed of the same development, but he still did not have information about the specific respondents and the reasons for Mr. Duterte’s exclusion from the cases.
“I presume it’s because of his presidential immunity, which I think does not apply because the criminal incidents [occurred] while he was still [Davao City] mayor,” Sabio said in a text message.
Sabio also filed two motions asking to be furnished a copy of the complaints filed by the Special Panel of Investigators, the fact-finding panel that tackled Matobato’s testimony.
The motions cited the legal interest of Matobato and corroborating state witness Arturo Lascañas in the investigators’ formal complaint. The pleadings also noted “this case is of national importance.”
Both Matobato and Lascañas, a retired policeman, attested to the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which was allegedly “created and led” by then-Mayor Duterte and was allegedly responsible for the killing of more than 1,000 suspected criminals in the city.
Sabio told the Inquirer that he opposed the exclusion of Mr. Duterte from the criminal cases.
“I intend to call out the Ombudsman about the non-inclusion of Duterte, because he was directly pointed as the mastermind in the Jun Bersabal and Jun Pala incidents,” he ended.
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