Encantado tales in the Senate

>> Thursday, September 22, 2016

March Fianza

When my 14th cousin Conrad Marzan does not believe my story, he will simply tell me “laklakayan kan mamati ka py la ti engkantada” (you are an old man now but you still believe in enchanted tales). That was what sneaked into my mind after watching the Senate committee on justice investigation on extra judicial killings in relation to President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
The senators, of course, are old enough to distinguish true-to-life stories from enchanted tales that are hard to believe but are reported to the outside world just the same. To shame the administration appears to be the true objective of the hearing, not an investigation in aid of legislation as they always say.
The latest scenario was the story of a certain Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed member of the infamous Davao Death Squad or DDS who claimed to have personally taken part in the killing of a thousand or so individuals that was ordered by then mayor Digong Duterte who is now Philippine President.
One fairy tale he narrated to which some senators pretended to be surprised about was the kidnapping and killing of the bodyguards of then Davao Cong. Prospero Nograles in 2010. His story was immediately and easily denied by Nograles saying that not one of his bodyguards who were from the Marine Corps was killed and that all of them are now back to their units.   
            Sen. Leila de Lima who chairs the committee displayed a body language and facial expression that appeared to be elated with the revelations of the witness. Still, she pressed Matobato to relate more of his scripted fairy tales – forgetting about the popular advice “less talk, less mistake.”   
He said in his testimony that DDS members kidnapped and killed four bodyguards of Nograles when he ran against Sara Duterte, the President’s daughter, in the mayoralty race of Davao City in 2010. Nograles lost to Sara.
Nograles who was immediately called by news outfits said “only the interests of other parties can push Matobato to appear in the Senate hearing, and that he suspects that the poor guy was being manipulated by some politicians to serve their selfish interests.”
Senator Ping Lacson also seemed doubtful of the credibility of Matobato, reminding him of possible charges if he is proven to be lying before the Senate. Lacson’s reservations showed after Matobato related the story about suspected international terrorist Sali Makdum as having been brought to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) office in 2002 and to a quarry site to be killed.
But Lacson who was former PNP chief and head of PAOCTF, clarified that PAOCTF was terminated in 2001. PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa also denied knowing such an incident saying that they never had a subject named Sali Makdum. Dela Rosa who once served as a PAOCTF officer in Davao also denied knowing and seeing Matobato in his office although he was informed that the witness was a hitman.
Lacson who was compelled to find out more about Sali Makdum resorted to surfing through his cellphone but found nothing about the suspected terrorist on the internet which made him say “baka non-existent yan.”
As the moro-moro investigation went on, De Lima said she received information that the PAOCTF existed even after Lacson stepped down as police chief then. That may be true but since the PAOCTF was already abolished, any actions such as arrests and investigations attributed to it were no longer sanctioned by the office. These were already acts of their own.
Lacson said De Lima’s witness also gave false information when he accused Davao City vice Mayor Paolo Duterte of masterminding the murder of billionaire businessman Richard King in June 2014 because of rivalry over a woman.
King’s family through their lawyer immediately refuted Matobato’s revelations, considering them as absolutely false that only “casted cloud and politics into the equation.” Further, King’s family believed that Richard was not killed inside a McDonald’s outlet but inside his office at the Vital-C Building.
But the genuine encantado story was the one described by Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre as “incredible”. In that story, Matobato related that a certain criminal squatter-land grabber was able to sustain hundreds of bullets fired from the automatic rifles of at least 30 men who strafed him – firing squad style. The man stayed alive and breathing but died after Mayor Duterte pumped two magazines of bullets on him.
The so-called senate committee investigation is not doing any good to the nation’s economic life. The effect is quite destructive as it destroys efforts on tourism, the stock market prices are affected, etc. These are not only damaging to Duterte but to us ell.
In CNN, the news about criminals being fed to crocodiles was aired. Although it was not backed by evidence, it was something that TV audience wanted to hear to satisfy their ears. And the claim that Matobato killed thousands becomes sensational news even before his credibility is tested.
By the way, Matobato’s stories were shown on pre-taped video in an earlier schedule before he testified in the senate, so that his statements were already published in the New York Times while he was yet to appear in the senate. How did this happen and who was responsible in spreading the video clips to international news outfits?   
Apparently, a certain group is feeding foreign media with erroneous, biased and misleading information to stimulate worldwide disapproval of Duterte’s methods in his war on drugs, and bid international community interference. The goal is to protect the group’s interests and get back to being in power.
In Thursday's senate extravaganza, the presence of the foreign press was noticeable. Obviously, the scheduled senate committee meeting was not one “in aid of legislation” but a moro-moro hearing intended to feed news to an international audience.
What I saw since Duterte launched his war on drugs is that those involved in it are really feeling the heat against their multi-million (or multi-billion) illegal drug business. They are the narco-politicians and their drug lord partners whose power and wealth are at stake.

Riding on the issue if not principally involved are this nation’s politicians who cannot accept defeat and who are equally threatened by Duterte’s loose tongue.


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