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Senator Gatchalian: further Matobato testimony “irrelevant” to EJK investigation

Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights suspends its hearing on alleged extrajudicial killings where witness Edgar Matobato testified against President Rodrigo Duterte recently. (Photo by Mark Cayabyab)

Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, led by Senator Leila De Lima, to forgo hearing further testimony from Edgar Matobato during its investigation into extrajudicial killings, pointing out that the supposed hitman has already admitted to having no personal knowledge concerning any killings committed during the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Reports indicate that the committee is planning to call Matobato to testify a second time despite the Senate’s refusal to grant Matobato protective custody after his first round of testimony last week.

“Any further testimony from Matobato would be completely irrelevant to this investigation. Matobato himself admitted that he has absolutely no information to give about killings committed after his so-called retirement, which was years before Duterte was elected president.┬áTherefore, giving Matobato another chance to take the stand will serve no legitimate purpose in furthering the aim of this investigation, which is to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings supposedly being committed under the Duterte administration.” said Gatchalian.

Instead of calling Matobato to the stand again, Gatchalian challenged the committee to produce new witnesses who would be able to give credible and relevant testimony concerning killings conducted since Duterte took office on June 30.

In the event that the committee has no other material witnesses to present for questioning, Gatchalian urged De Lima to close the proceedings.

“The investigatory powers of Senate committees are meant to shape policy direction and inspire legal reforms, not to serve partisan political interests by employing political hitmen┬áto smear the reputations of public officials. If Edgar Matobato is the best witness that the Justice Committee has to offer, then I suggest they end this investigation while they still can,” said Gatchalian.