On Monday, September 26, presented documents that supported Edgar’s claims about his links to Davao city hall – among them, an identification card bearing his name and signature and which indicates he was an “auxiliary service worker”; a service card which however listed his date of birth as June 11, 1961 (he was born in 1957); and job orders issued in 2013 by the authority of the city mayor then, Rodrigo Duterte.
He started out as a member of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), a paramilitary unit tasked to help maintain peace and order, and fight insurgents. Later, the CHDF, under the supervision and control of governors and mayors, became associated with human rights abuses and was disbanded. After Marcos, the CHDF was transformed into the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu), an irregular auxillary force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Edgar Bernal Matobato was an early witness to violence. By his own account, when he was 18 or so, supposed members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) who were in need of guns, swooped down on their home near the Mt Apo National Park and demanded guns.
“Sabi ng tatay ko, huwag ‘nyo galawin ang pamilya ko. Kung kailangan ‘nyo ng baril ko, ibibigay ko. Hindi ako lalaban. Siyempre noon, malakas ang NPA. So ako ang nagbigay. Kinuha ko sa taas ang baril tapos binigay ko sa mga NPA iyong baril. Pagkatapos iyong tatay ko hinawakan ng 4 na tao, pinutulan ng ulo sa harapan ko. Lumalakad pa nga sa bakuran namin iyong katawan, walang ulo. Pagkatapos tinusok sa kahoy, ginanyan sa lupa, binandera ang ulo ng tatay ko,” he narrates.
(My father told them, don’t touch my family. If you need my gun, I will give it. I won’t put up a fight. Of course at the time, the NPA was strong. So I was the one who gave the gun. I got it from upstairs and handed it to the NPA. Afterwards 4 men held my father and beheaded him in front of me. His headless body even walked around in our backyard. Afterwards they placed his head on a wooden stake, did this on the ground, and paraded it.)