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Philippines Senate is hearing evidence about alleged extrajudicial killings

Sharp rise in killings since President Duterte took office in late June

CNN  — 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s office has denied accusations that Duterte ordered a militia group to carry out extrajudicial killings while he was mayor of Davao City.

The claims were made by a witness who was testifying Thursday before a Philippines Senate committee set up to probe alleged extrajudicial killings in the three months since Duterte became president.

The man, who identified himself as Edgar Matobato, testified that he was part of the 300-member “Davao Death Squad” (DDS), which he alleges was run on the orders of Duterte.

Matobato testified the DDS killed alleged drug dealers and criminals in the southern city of Davao, on the order of Duterte when he was mayor, between 1988 and 2013. More than 1,000 people were killed in Davao City alone, he claimed.

Matobato also accused Duterte of killing a member of the Department of Justice with an Uzi submachine gun while serving as mayor.

Duterte himself has not responded to the specific claims that he ran the DDS or killed a government official, but in the past has suggested that he did pull the trigger on suspects in a kidnapping case.

Edgar Matobato answers questions as he testifies before the Philippine Senate in Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines on Thursday Sept. 15, 2016.