A former Filipino militiaman testified before the country's Senate on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was still a city mayor, ordered him and other members of a liquidation squad to kill criminals and opponents in gangland-style assaults that left about 1,000 dead. Edgar Matobato, 57, told the nationally televised Senate committee hearing that he heard Duterte order some of the killings and acknowledged he himself carried out about 50 of the abductions and deadly assaults, including a suspected kidnapper they fed to a crocodile in 2007 in southern Davao del Sur province, the AP reports.
The Senate committee inquiry was being led by Sen. Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte anti-drug campaign that has left more than 3,000 suspected drug users and dealers dead since he took office in June. "Our job was to kill criminals like drug pushers, rapists, snatchers," Matobato testified, adding some of the targets were not criminals but opponents of Duterte and one of his sons in Davao City. Matobato said he backed away from the killings after feeling guilty and entered a witness protection program. He says he left the program when Duterte became president, fearing he would be killed. (Duterte says he wants US forces to leave and says Filipino forces won't join the US in patrols of the South China Sea.)