Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte personally ordered executions of Muslims, "drug addicts" and "criminals" during his time as mayor of Davao city in the 1990s, a self-confessed assassin testified.
Duterte personally gunned down a justice department employee, the suspected hitman Edgar Matobato further alleged. The incumbent president apparently killed him with a submachine gun, he said.
Matobato provided graphic details of how Duterte presided over murders of as many as 1,400 people during a televised senate committee hearing.
He also accused Duterte of ordering bombings of mosques in retaliation to an attack on a cathedral in Davao. "He ordered us to kill Muslims," said the 57-year-old who claims to be a part of the Davao Death Squad.
A person fed to a crocodile, most victims shred to pieces and buried in a quarry and some people's stomachs slashed and then dumped into the sea, were but a few ways in which Duterte's alleged death squad carried out extrajudicial killings in a clandestine manner.
"They were killed like chickens," he told the televised hearing. "Our job was to kill criminals like drug pushers, rapists, snatchers."
Duterte's team, meanwhile, denied the allegations made by Matobato. "I don't think he's (Duterte) capable of giving those orders," the president's spokesperson Martin Andanar said, AFP reported.
Davao city vice mayor and Duterte's eldest son Paolo called the triggerman a "madman". "They (the statements made by Matobato) are mere hearsay."
Paolo's name was also named during the hearing, with the testifier saying he was a habitual drug user and ordered the death of a hotel owner in 2014.
The president has often denied being involved in any wrongdoing during his tenure as the mayor of Davao City.
The senate investigation is being led by Leila de Lima, a firece critic of Duterte's current war on drugs that has killed at least 3,400 people in the last 78 days.