DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A court here issued an arrest warrant for the self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato after he failed to attend the hearing on his case against illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Judge Silverio Mandalupe of Davao Municipal Trial Court Branch 3 ordered the arrest of Matobato after he failed to appear on his hearing last Thursday, November 3. The case was filed in 2014.

Mandalupe  also set the bail of P60,000 against Matobato.

Atty. Jude Sabio, lawyer of Matobato asked the court judge to postpone the arraignment since they are still waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) in their petition that the trial for the case of Matobato here will be transferred to Manila.

Sabio said Matobato did not appear in the hearing “because of some death threats he received after he claims in the recent extrajudicial killing Senate hearing that he was a member of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), an alleged vigilante group that kills suspected criminals in the City.”

In an interview, Sabio expressed his disappointment on the decision of the court since they were not given time to let the SC take its action to transfer the venue of the trial.

“Murag gusto jud nila makita si Matobato, siguro miss na nila, makuyawan man gud siya diria kay basin patyon siya (I think they want to see Matobato, maybe they already miss him, Matobato is afraid to come back here in Davao because he thinks someone will kill him),” he said.

During the hearing, Sabio said he felt that the decision of the court is biased since their request is valid and simple.

“Nagaduda na gani ko aning judge na magbias ni, basi naay influence because normal jud sa court na kung naay petition i-reset jud na (I already doubt the decision of the judge since his decision might be bias. Maybe there are some influence because normally in court, if there is a petition, the judge will automatically reset the hearing),” he said.

However, Sabio said he is still hoping that the SC will rule in their favor by approving their motion to transfer the trial in Manila.

Meanwhile, Sabio said they will file a case with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on January or February 2017 against President Rodrigo Duterte and the police officials who were allegedly involved in vigilante killings in the city.

During the Senate hearing last September, Matobato named 19 police officials, 10 are still in the service, while eight are retired and a remaining police official named is already dead. (davaotoday.com)

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