Cayetano says EJK hearings could be LP's 'Plan B' to reclaim Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Alan Peter Cayetano has questioned the real motive of the Senate Justice Committee in producing witness Edgar Matobato, who has claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte was behind numerous killings in Davao City when he was still mayor.

Cayetano says EJK hearings could be LP's 'Plan B' to reclaim Malacañang
Screengrab from CNN Philippines Facebook video.
During Thursday's hearing headed by Senator Leila De Lima, Cayetano warned that the probe could be a ploy initiated by the Liberal Party to damage the reputation of President Rodrigo Duterte, remove him from power, and install their own president.

"Gusto ko ipakita... na merong posibleng motibo ng paninira sa ating Pangulo dito... I'm asking about you [Sen. De Lima], your motive, and the motive of your party in this hearing... I am testing whether [the witnesses are credible] or is this part of the plan B of the Liberal Party para makuha ang Malacañang at manira lang," Cayetano said.

"Ako po ay naniniwala sa kasabihan sa Bibliya, kung anong itinanim, 'yun ang aanihin mo. So kailangan, sa committee na 'to, katotohanan ang itatanim natin, kasi kung kasinungalingan, grabe po ang consequences nito... Ano ba ang importante, ang lumabas ang totoo, or is this just a demolition job being done against President Duterte?"

The senator questioned the Justice committee's intention for presenting a witness with no proper corroboration. He strongly expressed doubt over the accusations made by Matobato, a self-proclaimed member of the suspected Davao Death Squad (DDS) who testified against Duterte before the hearing.

Alleged “DDS” member links Duterte to planned De Lima ambush in 2009

To disprove claims of Duterte's alleged involvement in the killings in Davao during his term as mayor, Cayetano cited how the local office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) already denied the existence of the said death squad.

The commission earlier conducted public hearings in Davao and even requested the Ombudsman to investigate on murder cases attributed to the DDS. The final disposition approved by the Office of the Ombudsman showed that "no evidence was gathered to support the killings attributed or attributable to the DDS" and that the allegations remain as "chismis and other gossips," Cayetano noted.

He then stressed that Matobato's credibility as a witness needs to be tested further, especially considering his proximity to De Lima, a Liberal Party member.

"Kaya ko nga tine-testing kung totoo sinasabi niyo o hindi... kung drawing ba ito, imbento lang ba ito, at dinala ka dito para pabagsakin ang administrasyon," he told Matobato, who had been under the Justice Department's Witness Protection Program (WPP) since 2014, back when De Lima was still DOJ Secretary.

Cayetano further expressed his frustration over the manner by which the proceedings were being conducted, particularly the committee's failure to provide senators with a list of the witnesses prior to last Thursday's hearing.

"Until 4 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday), humihingi ako ng listahan ng imbitado sa hearing na 'to. Hindi ako binibigyan ng committee po ninyo. Kahit ang initial list kung sino ang imbitado," Cayetano narrated. "I just take exception to the way this [hearing] is being conducted. Because dapat handa at prepared kaming lahat, and factual ang mga lumalabas," he stressed.

Cayetano also called out the committee for mentioning misleading data with regards to the number of deaths being linked to the current administration.

"When the chair gives facts and figures, it should be factual, hindi conclusions. At the start of this hearing, the chair mentioned that there are 3,526 total killed persons on the drug war... But this is wrong, because there are only 1,506 killed resulting from actual police operations. Ang ibang dinagdag dito, 'yung murder and homicide [cases], pareho ang numero nung time ni Pangulong Aquino, na ngayon ay china-charge kay Pangulong Duterte," he said during his manifestation.

"Let me say why I want to manifest this. We are being monitored not only by the local media but also the international media, and they are quoting from this hearing, from the CHR, and from this chair. Pero 'yung mga numero ay mali at misleading," he added.

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