MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte does not remember knowing Edgar Matobato personally.
Asked if he personally knew the key Senate witness and self-confessed Davao Death Squad hitman, Duterte said: "Hindi. I don't remember. Kasi kagaya nito, when I was the mayor, the one providing security, puro pulis."
(No. I don't remember because when I was mayor, all of the people providing me with security were the police.)
Duterte was interviewed in Davao City before midnight on Thursday, September 22.
Matobato claimed in Senate hearings that he was part of a small group of hitmen called the Lambada Boys which was allegedly formed by Duterte himself.
He alleded that Duterte ordered the group, which eventually evolved and was expanded into the Davao Death Squad, to kill mostly suspected criminals in Davao City.
Matobato claimed Duterte knew him personally and that he saw the former mayor himself had given orders to his fellow assassins.
The witness also said he was once part of the security detailed to Duterte's eldest son and current Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
The younger Duterte denied Matobato's claims, calling him a "madman."
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.