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NegOr Gov, 8 others killed

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Two suspects arrested in Bayawan, Negros Oriental, for their involvement in the killing of Gov. Roel Degamo and eight others on March 4.* PNP photo

Presidential sister and Senator Imee Marcos yesterday called for placing Negros Oriental under a “state of emergency,” in connection with the shooting rampage in Pamplona, Negros Oriental, on March 4, that claimed the lives of Gov. Roel Degamo and eight other civilians, including two barangay officials.

Of the 17 victims that were injured, 13 are being treated in various hospitals in Dumaguete City, while four others, who suffered minor injuries, were declared as outpatients, a statement issued by the Police Regional Office 7 said.

Four of the estimated 10 suspects involved in the armed attack inside the residential compound of Gov. Degamo in Brgy. San Isidro, Pamplona, Negros Occidental, have already been accounted for by the police and Philippine Army soldiers, following their separate arrests on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, in Bayawan and Amlan, Negros Oriental.

Another suspect died in a gun battle with pursuing authorities on March 4 in Brgy. Cansumalig, Bayawan City, following the discovery of the vehicles reportedly abandoned by the suspects in the same barangay.

Police and Army troopers also recovered a cache of high-powered firearms, including a B40 RPG (rocket propelled grenade) with five ammunition, five automatic assault rifles, a rifle case, two bullet proof vests, combat boots and military uniforms.

Brig. Gen. Leonardo Peña, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, disclosed that the three arrested suspects, including a former Scout Ranger trooper, were dishonorably discharged from the Philippine Army, for various offenses.

Sen. Marcos, who visited the wake of Gov. Degamo in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, yesterday said “this needs to stop, and not only the hitmen, or the murderers, their paymasters, but also the mastermind, and whoever conspired to make this happen.”

“Let us leave no stone unturned and no culprits unpunished. This cannot go unpunished and the perpetrators of this heinous crime, barbaric as it is and cowardly, should be punished as soon as possible,” she added.

PNP chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr, in a press conference at the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office headquarters in Sibulan, also attended by House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamen “Benhur” Abalos, and AFP chief of staff Andres Centino, does not appear to be supportive on the call of Senator Marcos, stressing “so far, everything is still on the manageable level.”

Azurin said that those involved in the shooting incident appear to be not fully organized in their plans to kill Gov. Degamo, as some of them were immediately arrested during pursuit operations.

Azurin vowed to use all means to identify, arrest and charge the mastermind and perpetrators behind the brutal slaying of Degamo.

A Special Investigation Task Group was formed by the PNP to investigate the death of Gov. Degamo and several others.

PNP Special Investigation Task Group spokesman PLt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare said that in coordination with the Land Transportation Office, the owners of the vehicles used and abandoned by the suspects have already been established. He, however refused to name names.

DILG Secretary Benjamen “Benhur” Abalos also vowed to ensure that justice will be served to the families of Gov. Degamo and other victims, as he assured them of arresting the mastermind.

In a press conference at the wake of her husband, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo yesterday said that they are not losing hope, to attain justice, not only for her husband, but also of other victims.

Mayor Degamo also urged the arrested suspects to reveal the identity of the mastermind.

Asked of her message to the mastermind, she replied “To the one behind this, your time will come soon,” as she also thanked the support of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vice President Sara Duterte, and many others.

“We are hoping that death of Roel will be a solution to all other problems in previous years, also related to peace and order,” the mayor said.*

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