Senators at Thursday's hearing on alleged extrajudicial killings seemed at a loss over "Sali Makdum," a suspected international terrorist who a surprise witness claimed was killed upon the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2002.
The name surfaced at the hearing when Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed member of the infamous Davao Death Squad (DDS), recalled instances when they killed people upon Duterte's orders when he was still mayor of Davao City.
Matobato said he, along with about six others, kidnapped the suspected terrorist at Samal Island in Davao, and brought him to the office of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) there.
He said Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Dir. Gen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa was then the head of PAOCTF in the area.
"Pinatay namin, chinopchop namin, at nilibing sa quarry. Sa Samal, sa itaas ng palengke namin dinukot," Matobato said.
For his part, Dela Rosa said they did not have a target of such name.
He also denied having worked with a certain SPO4 Arthur Lascañas, who Matobato claimed was the leader of DDS.
"Wala po akong tao sa PAOCTF na Arthur Lascañas at wala kaming target na Makdum," he said. "Your honor, 'yung sinasabi niya na dinadala sa office ng PAOCTF, hindi ko alam, so I am surprised with this statement."
During the hearing, Sen. Panfilo Lacson—former chief of PNP and PAOCTF—also said PAOCTF was abolished in 2001, a year before the alleged killing.
Not on Google
Another seeming source of confusion was the spelling of the name.
While testing Matobato's credibility, Lacson said, "Kanina pa ako Google nang Google kay Sali Makdum."
"Gigil na gigil na ako, wala akong makita. Baka nonexistent 'yan," he said.
Matobato said it was Lascañas who told them Makdum was an international terrorist.
"Ako kasi ang kinasuhan sa pagdukot kay Sali Makdum," he said.
Sen. Leila de Lima then asked: "Meron bang record nu'n?"
Matobato replied: "Meron po."
GMA News Online has reached out to the National Bureau of Investigation's Counterterrorism Unit, but was not able to speak to any official to confirm the information.
The search seemed to have extended online, as netizens asked the same question.
Finding Sali Makdum????????— Carmela (@caramelsantos) September 15, 2016
Alien ba si sally makdum? #ExtrajudicialKillings— P H A U ? (@paulabelike) September 15, 2016
Lagi na lang si Sally Makdum. Si Sally na walang kamalay-malay— Glen Stefani (@glenfiddichxx) September 15, 2016
Guys, di ko rin ma-google si Sally Makdum. Hahahaha. #senatehearing— Allysa Salagubang (@alydygaga) September 15, 2016
— Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/KBK, GMA News