President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was still a city mayor, ordered a liquidation squad to kill criminals and opponents in gangland-style assaults that left about 1,000 dead, Reuters reported
A former Filipino militiaman, Edgar Matobato, 57, told the nationally televised Senate committee hearing that he heard Duterte order some of the killings and acknowledged he himself carried out about 50 of the abductions and deadly assaults, including a suspected kidnapper who they fed to a crocodile in 2007 in southern Davao del Sur province.
The Senate committee inquiry was being led by Sen. Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte's anti-drug campaign that has left more than 3,000 suspected drug users and dealers dead since he assumed the presidency in June. Duterte has accused de Lima of involvement in illegal drugs, alleging that she used to have a driver who took money from detained drug lords. She has denied the allegations.
The killings of the suspected drug dealers have sparked concerns in the Philippines and among U.N. and U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama, who have urged Duterte's government to stop the killings and ensure his anti-drug war complies with human rights laws and the rule of law.
Duterte has rejected the criticisms, questioning the right of the U.N., the U.S. and Obama to raise human rights issues.
De Lima and Philippine human rights officials and advocates have previously said that potential witnesses refused to testify against Duterte when he was still mayor because they were afraid they would be killed.