Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa expressed surprise Thursday that the Senate investigation on the spate of killings of alleged drug suspects focused on the supposed Davao Death Squad.
“Nagulat ako bakit umabot doon sa DDS. Akala ko war on drugs. Akala ko extrajudicial killings at war on drugs. E yung mga pinagsasabi nya ilang years na yun na noon pa,” Dela Rosa said in an interview with reporters after the hearing.
The hearing was ostensibly about those killed in the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. Instead, the hearing focused on supposed killings conducted by the Davao Death Squad when Duterte was mayor of the city.
Self-confessed assassin Edgar Matobato testified about the killings staged by the DDS, of which he claimed to be a member from 1988 to 2014. He even testified that Dela Rosa, who was then a leader of Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF)-Eastern Mindanao, gave them the go-signal to kill alleged international terrorist Sali Makdum.
“The timing and his presence diyan sa hearing na yan is questionable na in the first place. Akala ko war on drugs ang pinag-uusapan, yung extrajudicial killing in relation to the war on drugs. E bakit yung kay Matobato na matagal na,” he added.
Dela Rosa said he was surprised that he was being dragged into the issue when he does not personally know Matobato.
“First time ko siya nakita although naririnig ko pangalan n’ya na tirador yang si Matobato. Nandun daw sya sa opisina ko, ako daw nagbigay ng go-signal. Hindi ko nga sya kilala. Yung mga tao na pinagsasabihan n’ya na pulis hindi ko, hindi ko mga tao yun. Hindi yun under sa akin. Wala kaming target na ganung pangalan,” he said.
“Kapag tirador sa Davao mga gun for hire, binabarayan para kumikitil ng buhay sa mga personal na kaso,” he added.
He said if he had known Matobato before, he would had arrested him.
“Kung kilala ko yung mukha na yan matagal ko na hinuli yan at kapag hinuli ko alam ko lalaban yan dahil hitman nga e. matagal na nagkabarilan nyan. Hindi ko nakita yan, first time ngayon nakita ko dito,” he said.
He added that he was no longer with the PAOCTF when the supposed incident happened in 2002.
“Yung year na iyon tapos na PAOCTF nun noong 2001 pa lang, dissolved na kami at ako ay in-assign na sa Catitipan and later on na-assign ako sa national headquarters sa Directorate for Human Resource Doctrine and Development,” he said.
Asked on what he will do with the police personnel mentioned by Matobato, Dela Rosa said he will let the Senate committee invite them.
“Papaharap (sila) sa hearing. Ipapatawag naman sila,” he said.
He added that he would make Matobato a witness against the police personnel he mentioned.
“Kung ipagkakatiwala siya sa amin ng Senado e kupkukin namin siya, gagawin namin siyang witness. Imbestigahan natin yung salaysay niya kung ibigay sa amin. State witness kung sino ang gustong file-an ng kaso. Ang tanong magtiwala kaya ang Senado sa amin? Ibigay kaya sa amin?” he said.