by ayan c. mellejor and richy nalagon
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regional office has declared Edgar Matobato fugitive after the self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hitman could no longer be located.
NBI-11 Director Arnold Rosales said efforts are now exerted to track Matobato in places where he could be hiding. He said a team was sent to Pangasinan to arrest him after they were tipped off by the intelligence community.
Rosales said they also coordinated with the Office of Senator Antonio Trillanes to facilitate the surrender of Matobato after they were informed that the latter was under the custody of the senator.
After several calls, Rosales said the office of Senator Trillanes already refused to coordinate with NBI, which already formed a Task Force to look for Matobato.
“By implication, din na nag reply,” Rosales told reporters at Wednesday’s AFP-PNP Press Corps after he was asked why the office of the senator refused to coordinate with the NBI team.
A hold departure order was already issued against Matobato, who is facing three cases on illegal pos-session of firearms filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on June 20, 2014, the frustrated murder of a former department of Agrarian Reform Adjudi-cator and kidnap with ransom of Sali Makdom in 2000.
While Matobato was able to post bail for two cases, Matobato is now wanted for the Sali Mak-dom kidnapping case after the Regional Trial Court in Davao del Norte ordered for his arrest and com-panion Sonny Custodio.
The arrest order stemmed from the case filed by Mirasol Marquez, the common-law wife of kidnap-for-ransom victim Salih Makdom in exchange for P100,000.
It may be recalled that during the Senate hearing on extra-judicial killings last year, Matobato claimed he kidnapped Makdom on orders of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
The kidnapping case was first filed by Marquez on November 17, 2000 in Davao City but this was dismissed by the court on May 30, 2001 for lack of jurisdiction.
In her affidavit com-plaint, Marquez said Mak-dom was abducted by Ma-tabato’s group. On Novem-ber 9, 2000, Matobato reportedly called her to demand ransom money for Makdom’s freedom.
They set the meeting place in front of a food chain along Ilustre Street where the money was received by a man. Despite the payment of ransom, Matobato did not release Makdom.
On November 11, the friends of Makdom called Marquez informing her that the abductors called them asking for P3-million in exchange for Makdom’s freedom.
Instead of agreeing to Matobato’s demand, Mar-quez sought the assistance of the NBI 11 and filed a case on November 17. Since then Marquez and the authorities lost track of the whereabouts of Mak-dom and Matobato’s group until January 23, 2001.
The case was re-filed by NBI on December 22, 2016 and was indicted by the Island Garden City of Samal Prosecutors Office.
Last September 23, a retired adjudicator of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for Sou-thern Mindanao Abeto Salcedo filed frustrated murder case against Mato-bato after seeing him on the televised Senate hearing. Salcedo recognized Mato-bato as the man who tried to kill him.
Salcedo identified Ma-tobato as the gunman who shot him at close range as he was emerging from the DAR provincial office in Digos City last October 24, 2014. Salcedo survived from three gunshot wounds he sustained in that attack. He said he could not be mistaken on Matobato be-cause it was only his car’s window that separated them.