In an extraordinary hearing in the Philippine Senate, a witness claimed Thursday that before Rodrigo Duterte became president, he paid a squad of hit men to carry out summary executions that involved feeding a body to a crocodile, chopping up corpses and dumping slashed bodies into the sea.
The witness, Edgar Matobato, 57, said he was one of those hit men in the southern Philippine city of Davao, where Duterte served as mayor before winning the presidency in May. Matobato spoke to Philippine lawmakers at Senate hearings investigating a recent wave of extrajudicial killings that have claimed more than 3,000 lives as part of the president’s anti-drug campaign.
The dramatic scene at the Senate showed a country divided at home and struggling to keep its balance on the global stage.
Duterte swept to power this spring promising to crack down on crime, just as he did as the longtime mayor of Davao, where he earned a reputation for strongman tactics and was christened “the death squad mayor” by Human Rights Watch for allegedly ordering extrajudicial killings.
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