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Matobato’s raps, mere harassment – Palace

The murder complaint filed by a self-confessed hitman against President Duterte is nothing but harassment to distract him from his job, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag argued the President enjoys immunity while in office and the Office of the Ombudsman cannot remove a sitting Chief Executive.

Through his lawyer Jude Sabio, Senate witness Edgar Matobato, self-confessed member of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), filed criminal complaints for murder, torture, kidnapping and crimes against humanity against the President before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Sabio said Matobato, who is under the custody of Senator Antonio Trillanes, could not come for security reason.

Also named in the complaint were Philippine National Police chief Ronaldo dela Rosa, Davao Vice Mayor and Presidential son Paolo Duterte as well as former and present members of the Davao City police force like SPO3 Arthur Lascanas and SPO4 Bienvendio Laud.

Sabio said the complaint covered crimes allegedly committed by the accused during the stint of Duterte as mayor
Matobato earlier claimed that Duterte created the Davao Death Squad when he was mayor of Davao City, adding he gave consent to the summary killings of suspected criminals.

“The complaint is nothing but harassment aimed at distracting the Chief Executive from performing his duty. The Ombudsman already terminated an earlier investigation on the Davao Death Squad case which linked then Davao City Mayor Duterte,” Banaag said.

Banaag said they recognize the constitutional mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman “to act on and investigate complaints against government officials.”

“It is noteworthy to mention that the Ombudsman cannot discipline or remove impeachable officials, which include the President. He enjoys immunity while in office,” she said. (GENALYN D. KABILING • JUN RAMIREZ)

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