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Duterte ordered Philippine killings, hit man testifies

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"The detailed testimony from a "death squad" member that then mayor Duterte was personally involved when he illegally ordered the killings requires an independent investigation", said Brad Adams, the HRW representative in Asia.

Edgar Matobato, 57, told the hearing - part of an inquiry being conducted by Sen.

"Our job was to kill criminals, rapists, pushers, and snatchers".

Duterte was responding to the demands by human-rights groups to investigate more than 1,000 extrajudicial killings in Davao since the late 1990s, when he was also the city mayor.

Since his election more than 3,000 drug users and dealers have been killed in police operations or by vigilantes, according to the authorities, amid worldwide alarm over human rights violations. He said victims would be shot or strangled, while some were disemboweled and thrown into the sea for fish to eat. We killed people nearly on a daily basis.

Matobato also alleged that the president's eldest son and Davao's current vice mayor, Paolo Duterte, was a drug user who ordered the death of a hotel owner in 2014.

Matobato said a gunfight erupted after he and another member of the death squad got in an argument with a man named Amisola, an official with the country's National Bureau of Investigation.

A government minister called the allegations "lies and fabrications".

Philippine human rights officials and advocates have previously said potential witnesses refused to testify against Mr Duterte when he was still mayor out of fear of being killed.

Matobao told the committee he quit the death squad in 2013 and was tortured and threatened to keep quiet about the killings.

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On this claim, Mr Duterte's spokesman, Martin Andanar, said "I don't think he is capable of giving those orders".

Local and worldwide human rights groups have previously accused Mr Duterte of being complicit in the death squad murders of hundreds of people. De Lima has staunchly denied these accusations. Duterte as he testified in the Senate on Thursday during a hearing on alleged extrajudicial killings in the President's war on drugs.

In the hearing he disclosed that he and a group of policemen and former communist rebels had killed about 1,000 people over 25 years on Mr Duterte's orders, one of them fed alive to a crocodile.

But a violent crackdown on drug dealers was Duterte's central campaign promise - and he was elected by a wide margin.

The group later became the DDS, the group accused of alleged summary killings in Davao City which De Lima investigated in her capacity as justice secretary and head of the Commission on Human Rights.

"I have denied the request for protective custody of the witness Matobato because there is no Senate rule to justify it", said Mr Pimentel. He said he and others were waiting to ambush Ms de Lima but she did not go to a part of a hilly area - a suspected mass grave - where they were waiting to open fire.

After a 1993 bombing of a Roman Catholic cathedral, Matobato said Duterte ordered him and his colleagues to launch attacks on mosques in Davao city.

The killings have sparked outrage in the global community, including from President Barack Obama, who urged Duterte to comply with human rights law.

"Duterte's boastful brand of violent impunity should be a path to prosecution, not a platform for political office", he added.

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