Roel Degamo

4 more ex-military personnel tagged in Degamo slay surrender – Remulla

Jairo Bolledo

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4 more ex-military personnel tagged in Degamo slay surrender – Remulla

CALL FOR JUSTICE. Supporters place signs for justice on the coffin of slain Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo during his funeral in Siaton town, on March 16, 2023.

Francis Pabiana/Rappler

Almost all who are part of the team that attacked the late provincial executive are now under the custody of authorities, says DOJ Secretary Boying Remulla

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said on Tuesday, March 21, that four more former members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) tagged in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo have surrendered.

Remulla told reporters that almost all people who were part of the team that attacked the late provincial executive were now under government custody. According to the justice secretary, the four former service personnel surrendered through the military and remained under the AFP’s custody.

The justice secretary did not give the specific dates of their surrender. He added the new surrenderees will be turned over to the DOJ on Wednesday morning, March 22. Remulla also disclosed on Tuesday that the authorities were still looking for three more people who might be involved in the case.

He added an active military personnel helped the authorities in the most recent surrenders in relation to the Degamo case.

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Earlier this month, on March 4, Degamo was killed in Pamplona town while attending an aid distribution event. He served as Negros Oriental’s governor since 2011. Hours after his death, the police arrested the suspects – some of which were also former military personnel – in Bayawan City. These suspects are now facing charges in relation to Degamo and eight others’ death.

On March 20, the DOJ also announced that another former AFP member surrendered to the military over the weekend. AFP chief of staff General Andres Centino said the unnamed person was discharged from service in 2016 over alleged involvement in illegal drugs.

As of Tuesday, the authorities have already identified at least 10 people involved in the killing:

  • Former military members Joric Labrador, Joven Javier, and Benjie Rodriguez arrested the same day of the killing on March 4
  • Former soldier-turned-driver Osmundo Rojas Rivero arrested on March 5
  • Arnil Labradilla, alleged former rebel; killed in hot pursuit
  • Five former soldiers who recently surrendered (unnamed)
Message from Teves

Remulla also revealed that Negros Oriental Third District Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. has reached out to him.

“I received [a] text message from [Teves] yesterday and I don’t want to speak to somebody na walang present na ibang tao (when there are no other people present) because I don’t want words twisted. So if I talked to him, it would be in front of other people,” the justice secretary said.

Remulla said he has not responded to Teves, adding that he did want the conversation with the congressman to “distract” him from his priority, which was the latest surrenderees.

Embattled Teves is facing at least eight criminal complaints over killings in Negros Oriental in 2019 and alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Suspects in the Degamo slay also claimed a certain “Congressman Teves” ordered the assassination.

Teves, who is overseas for medical reasons, has yet to return to the country almost two weeks since his travel authority expired on March 9. Citing security concerns, Teves also recently wrote to Speaker Martin Romualdez, requesting a two-month leave of absence from the House. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.