• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
A former Army soldier, reported by authorities to be a main player in the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, has surrendered on Friday to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Negros Island, disclosed yesterday by AFP chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino.
After receiving the surrender feelers, the suspect was picked up by members of the Special Joint Task Force Negros in one of the municipalities near Bacolod City on Saturday, after which he was immediately brought to Manila, task force spokesman, Maj. Cenon Pancito said.
Pancito, however said he cannot say if the suspect is a resident of Negros Occidental, as they are not privy to the details, stressing that they only provided security to the suspect, until such time he was sent to Manila.
The surrender of the suspect, brings to six the number of perpetrators accounted for by the authorities, more than two weeks after Degamo and eight others were killed inside his residence, on March 4, in Pamplona, Negros Oriental, he added.
In a press briefing with Interior Secretary Benjamen “Benhur” Abalos Jr. and Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla, Centino said the suspect, who was brought to Manila over the weekend, holds “vital and critical information” that will help in the immediate resolution of Degamo’s killing.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he was a “direct participant” and was named by the other gunmen – Joric Garido Labrador, Joven Calibjo Javier, and Benjie Rodriguez, who were earlier arrested by the police and have admitted involvement in Degamo’s murder.
Of the six suspects, one died in a shootout with government forces, while five others were arrested are and cooperating with the government, Pancito said, adding that they are still looking for four other suspects.
He earlier revealed that the team of assassins who killed Degamo was led by an ex-Army soldier.
Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr., the task force chief, disclosed that the surrendered suspect will be turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation. “We understand that the suspect has vital and critical information that we hope will pave for the resolution of this case the soonest possible time,” Abalos said.
On the other hand, Remulla said that the suspect corroborated the information of investigators and knows other people who are involved. With the information given by the new suspect, Remulla said they are looking at the involvement of eight more persons.*