Hold order out

Court orders: stop Matobato from escaping country
A PANABO City judge has directed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Bureau of Immigration (BI) to stop self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato from leaving the country after the issuance of an arrest warrant.

Granting a request from the prosecution, Regional Trial Court Branch 4 Judge Dorothy Montejo-Gonzaga issued a hold departure order (HDO) on March 27, which was also the day she issued the warrant of arrest, against Matobato and Sonny Custodio in connection to the kidnapping of Sali Makdum, an alleged terrorist, in 2000.

However, only Matobato is subjected to the HDO.

“The accused is thus prevented from leaving the country pending proceedings of the above-entitled case,” Gonzaga said in the order.

Meanwhile, Jude Josue Sabio, legal counsel of Matobato, questioned the issuance of a warrant of arrest against his client. He said that he has pending motions and a third supplemental motion filed before the court. He also asked the court for a hearing today (March 29) on the supplemental motion following the testimony of SPO3 Arthur Lascañas admitting to kidnapping and killing Makdum, which would have cleared his client.

But the judge is on leave so the hearing was supposed to have been reset on April 6. “It’s clear that they are trying to rush it (warrant), they want Matobato arrested immediately. It’s clear there’s undue pressure.”

“We all know that Matobato is testifying against President Rodrigo Duterte,” he added.

Apart from the kidnapping case in Panabo, Matobato is also facing trial for an illegal gun case in Davao City and a frustrated murder case in Digos City.

On March 9, Matobato surrendered in connection to case filed by Abeto Salcedo Jr., a retired adjudicator of the Department of Agrarian Reform. Salcedo identified Matobato as the one who shot him on Oct. 23, 2014 at the junction of Bonifacio Street and Bago in Digos.  But he was able to walk free after paying the bail for P200,000.