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BACOLOD, Philippines – Armed men attacked Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo on Saturday morning, March 4, just outside Barangay 9 in Pamplona town, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Negros Oriental office said.
He was pronounced dead at 11:41 am, his wife, Pamplona, Negros Oriental Mayor Janice Degamo, said in a video message posted on the governor’s Facebook page. He was 56.
“Governor Degamo [does] not deserve that kind of death. He was serving his constituents on a Saturday along with his department heads. There were five others who died with him who were there to ask for help,” the mayor said, calling on the national government to bring justice to their family.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Kym Lopez, Negros Oriental police spokesperson, described the attack as a strafing incident during a town meeting.
The PNP Central Visayas (Region 7) office said Degamo was just outside his family’s residential compound attending an aid event for 4Ps beneficiaries when the suspects attacked.
The PNP R7 office said witnesses described the assailants in “full battle gear” and “pixelized uniform.”
The governor, who had just won a Supreme Court victory cementing his reelection in the May 2022 polls, was hit in several parts of his body, DZBB quoted PNP regional spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare as saying.
In a separate statement, Pelare said six suspects with “long firearms” perpetuated the shooting and fled onboard two SUVs. At least three getaway vehicles were found abandoned in Barangay Kansumalig, Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, and “more or less 10 suspects” were seen fleeing from the scene.
Initial reports said Degamo was alive when he was taken to the Siliman University Medical Center.
In a statement by the Pamplona Municipal Police Station’s police chief at 7:30 pm on Saturday, the following were said to have also been killed in the shooting:
- Jessie Bot-ay
- Jose Marie Ramirez
- Jomar Canseco
- Crispin Vallega
- Jerome Maquiling
- Florenda Quinikito
- Joseph Retaada
- Michael Fabugais
Meanwhile, injured during the shooting were the following:
- Lestor Chris Arnold
- Marlo Quilnet
- Dr. Liland Estacion
- Corporal Gerald Malones
- David Toryan Cortez
- Fredilito Cafe
- Chyrell Garpen
- Rosa Banquerigo
- Vickmar G. Rayoso
- Mayben Jun Torremocha y Cabildo
- Nikki Espinas
- Pedro Flores
- Sgt. Edmar Sayon
Four others received minor injuries.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos said that following the “senseless assassination attempt” on Degamo, the PNP had already given the directive to conduct hot pursuit operations against the suspects.
“Nakadeploy na ang mga puwersa ng Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office pati na ang mga kapulisan sa karatig na probinsya para galugarin ang bawat sulok ng lugar para agad na madakip ang mga kriminal,” Abalos said. He also appealed for witnesses to help in the investigation.
(Police from the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office as well as the neighboring province have been deployed to comb every corner of the area to immediately arrest the criminals.)
The provincial PNP has established roadblocks around the province to prevent the assailants from getting away, Pelare added. PRO-7 Regional Director Brigadier General Beares also went to Negros Oriental to supervise the investigation.
In separate statements on Saturday afternoon, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte condemned the killing, calling on investigators to make the killers and the mastermind pay for the crime.
“I am warning all those involved in this killing: you can run but you cannot hide. We will find you. If you surrender now, it will be your best option,” Marcos said. (READ: ‘We will find you’: Marcos warns killers of Governor Degamo they will pay for ‘dastardly crime’)
Justice Secretary Boying Remulla is offering a reward of P5 million for any information that would lead to arrest and prosecution of Degamo’s killers. The National Bureau of Investigation, under his department, will conduct its own investigation into the incident.
The Philippine Army, meanwhile expressed “its deep sorrow and strong condemnation of the violent attack that resulted in the untimely death of Negros Oriental Governor Roel R. Degamo and eight other individuals.”
Aside from the disputed election results, which led to Henry Teves stepping down from the governor’s post, Negros Oriental has been in the news for issues related to escalating political conflict.
Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., brother of Henry, stunned political observers and the military in December 2022 by claiming in a garbled video narrative that some soldiers and military units from Negros Occidental were involved in a plot to assassinate him and other members of the family.
Degamo has also raised blood pressures among the tight-knit politicians in both sides of Negros Island for his long-standing opposition to the One Negros Island Region, a position he reiterated shortly after his political victory. – Rappler.com