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Facts surrounding material concealment

/ 12:10 AM December 02, 2016

This refers to the editorial titled “Gordon’s meltdown” (Opinion, 10/7/16)—an offshoot of the Oct. 3, 2016, Senate joint committee hearing that stumbled upon the issue of “material concealment” which was passionately discussed.

The facts are:

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On Nov. 14, 2000, Mirasol Marquez, common-law wife of Sali Makdum, filed a case for kidnapping for ransom following Makdum’s disappearance. The National Bureau of Investigation filed a complaint against the following: Edgar Matobato, Sonny Custodio, Nalwin Calpo, Raul Rodriguez and a John Doe.

On Jan. 4, 2001, Matobato executed a counteraffidavit denying all charges, claiming he had nothing to do with Makdum’s killing.

On Sept. 4, 2014, Matobato executed an affidavit in connection with his application to be placed under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice under then Secretary (now senator) Leila de Lima, where he stated that he saw how the “group” slit Makdum’s throat and took turns stabbing him to death. He implicated the following: SPO3 Arthur Lascanas, SPO2 Reynante Medina, SPO4 Jim Tan, SPO2 Bienvenido Furog, SPO3 Pogi Ubalis, SPO2 Rosalino “Bobong” Aquino. He did not say he took part in the killing.

During the Sept. 15, 2016, hearing presided by Senator De Lima, Matobato, contrary to his previous denials, admitted that he and Lascanas killed Makdum, “binigti” and “pinutol-putol ang katawan.” During this hearing he implicated the following: Col. Rey Capote, Lascanas, Aquino, Furog, and SPO2 Ubales, all members of the Davao police. Matobato also claimed that Makdum was murdered because he was a terrorist. At that time, I was not yet a member of the committee.

During the Sept. 22, 2016, hearing, the first one I presided after taking over the committee chairmanship, Matobato testified that “pinatay, binigti nila ni Lascanas” (referring to Makdum). He referred to the persons he mentioned in the Sept. 15, 2016, hearing.

During the Oct. 3, 2016, hearing, Lascanas denied having participated in Makdum’s killing and stated that the NBI had filed a case of kidnapping for ransom against Matobato and the four other respondents on Nov. 14, 2000. The other respondents in the Nov. 14, 2000, complaint mentioned above are different from those named by Matobato during the Sept. 15, 2016, hearing.

Obviously, Matobato was lying, and soon two instances of material concealment came to light. First, Senator De Lima did not disclose the suspects in the complaint filed by the NBI for the kidnapping of Makdum. Secondly, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV spirited out Matobato without the committee’s knowledge and permission.

Based on the above, the only conclusion is that there was a deliberate attempt to conceal an important fact from the committee which would confirm Matobato’s lack of credibility. It also became more pronounced that somebody or some persons were protecting Matobato because he would certainly be cornered with his inconsistencies.

On the “tantrum” issue, truth to tell, it was a humorous scene.

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SEN. RICHARD J. GORDON, chair, Committee on Justice and Human Rights

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