>> Extraordinary testimony in Manila, Thursday. A former self-confessed hitman claiming, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had personally given orders for extrajudicial killings before he took office. At a senate hearing, Edgar Matobato said he overheard then Davao City Mayor Duterte, give instructions to a death squad, ordering assassinations.>>
> Activists say, nearly 1,000 criminals and political opponents were executed over the past two decades while Duterte was mayor.
>> From my start in 1988 to 2013, I have gunned down over 50 people when we were told to kill. I can't remember their names, but I still remember being a hitman, and what happened.>>
In a televised hearing, 57-year-old Matobato described the gruesome killings. Matobato said, one man was fed to a crocodile and most victims were cut into pieces, and buried in a mass grave at a quarry. He said others were thrown into the sea, their stomachs slashed to prevent bodies floating to the surface.
Not much is known about Matobato, who volunteered to testify in a senate investigation, led by a former justice minister, Senator Leila de Lima, a long time critic of the president. Duterte has frequently denied any involvement in vigilantism, as both mayor and president. In a public speech on Thursday, afternoon, he made no mention of the senate hearing.
International leaders and human rights groups have also been critical of Duterte's anti-drug campaign. Fearing that possible extra-judicial killings are eroding the rule of law in the Philippines. Duterte responding to these claims with anger. Earlier this month, he called President Obama a quote, son of a whore, and threatened to repeat the slur in person if Obama challenged him on extrajudicial debts.