Jude Sabio, like Edgar Matobato and Arthur Lascañas, is an unknown lawyer. His name like the two self-confessed ‘murderers’, surfaced only when the two triggermen and Senator Antonio Trillanes and Vice President Leni Robredo surreptitiously went abroad.
Trillanes and Robredo, (who still dream of having dinner with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte), rendezvoused in Seoul, South Korea while Lascañas emerged in Singapore. By about that time, news was abuzz that a certain lawyer, named Sabio, was on his way to The Hague to file a complaint in the International Criminal Court. Matobato, the favorite story character of New York Times, was nowhere, while his fellow triggerman who claimed to have killed 2,000 victims is enjoying the balmy City state which is one of the most expensive places in the world to go to. Funny, the poor guy scooted to Singapore because according to him “natunton na ng mga kapulisan ang pinagtaguan ko” (police had found out my hideout). Did not he tell the senators that since he had confessed his sins he is ready to face any consequences including death?
Attorney Sabio, on the other hand, shoots his (shot)gun from the hip. He indicted not only Duterte but nearly everyone in and out of the senate he suspected might pin the perjured witnesses presented by Trillanes.
I am not a Sherlock Holmes but I am beginning to suspect that Sabio must have been prodded by some wily characters in the Duterte camp to file the suit to make fun of the dude. I just want to point out some incredulous citations raised by Sabio to prove this.
Sabio impleaded Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” De La Rosa, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, Police Superintendent Edilberto Leonardo, Senior Police Officer 4 Sanson "Sonny" Buenaventura. Police Superintendent Royina Garma, National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Sen. Richard Gordon and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Sabio and his witnesses claim that the victims of EJK were carried out by the Davao Death Squad. Here now comes the former Integrated National Police Commanding General Dionisio Tan-gatue Jr., who said that now that the case is filed in court he is willing to testify that DDS was a ghost force which was created by him in the later part of 1983 to counter the dreaded NPA (New People's Army) hit squads called “Sparrows”. I interviewed Tan-gatue who revealed that at the time he “released” DDS on air using a firebrand radio commentator Jun Pala, Duterte was yet a greenhorn lawyer and a newly appointed Assistant City Fiscal of Davao.
“How many times do I have to tell you that Duterte has no clout at all when DDS was conceptualized,” the retired police general said.
“He has absolutely no clout at all”, he stressed sounding irritated with my question.
He recalled that as an inquest fiscal Duterte investigated murder suspects that include policemen, CAFGUs, military men and NPAs.
How could now Sabio and his perjured witnesses prove that DDS was organized by Duterte? Tan-gatue has a good laugh when I told him about this. “Napaka-impossibly naman yon”, he chuckled. (That is impossible.)
If that is indeed ridiculous, what is now the role of the other persons who had been accused by Sabio and his star witnesses on the issue of EJK and DDS?
This razzmatazz is befuddling the issue. I do not think the ICC will waste its time listening to the litany of “revelations” which Sabio’s witnesses will recite. Sabio’s own allegation that the issue of EJK has not been address is plain rhetoric.
Matobato said that by himself he killed more than 200. Then here comes Lascañas who retracted his testimonies that demolished Matobato’s story.
After confessing that he was not help by Duterte in his liver problem and that his daughter was not given a job by the President he proceeded to recant his testimonies against Matobato and then sang a different tune.
Lascañas came out like a lamenting Judas and said that they killed more than 2,000 on orders of Duterte. Without winking an eyelash he also confessed that the Mayor ordered the execution of Ernesto Macasaet, a retired policeman turned politician.
Both testimonies of Lascañas which Attorney Sabio included in his complaint before ICC are fraught with incredulity and prevarications.
I personally know Macasaet, a decorated police officer who led the magnificent team of policemen who ran after organized crime in Davao City years back. This was at the time when Duterte was maybe finishing his law in San Beda. Erning who had a quadruple heart bypass died when his heart gave up while chasing his wayward dog.
When Leila De Lima was Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights she personally grilled then Mayor Duterte for his alleged involvement in extra-judicial killings.
The probe lasted for four months starting from June and ended in September in 2009. Duterte filed a leave of absence during the duration of the investigation and even formally gave up his supervisory power over the police. After De Lima, her two successors did nothing but pursue her probe on Duterte but until today they failed to produce any piece of evidence.
Fast forward De Lima became Secretary of Justice then became a senator. She has all the influence and the means for her and the self-confessed killers to pinpoint to a single grave of the victims of EJK which they were so cocksure they buried in Laud quarry. Who is the foolish judge of any court will attempt to indict Duterte when his accusers cannot produce any viable piece of evidence after nearly two decades of sleuthing?
The answer my friends, is blowing in the wind…the answer is blowing in the wind. And so the song goes that defines a shabby political propaganda aimed at demeaning President Duterte at the height of the Asean Summit which the Philippines hosts.
(Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan)