Negros Oriental

Negros Oriental residents call for justice as they pay last respects to Degamo

Ryan Macasero

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Negros Oriental residents call for justice as they pay last respects to Degamo

GOODBYE. Hundreds of mourners at the Negros Oriental provincial capitol in Dumaguete City jostle for space in Ceres buses coming in to ferry them to Barangay Bayawon, Siaton town, where slain Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo will be buried in the backyard of their family compound.

Francis Ryan Pabiania/ Rappler

'Bakit ngayon pa ang national government nakialam na wala na si governor?' Pamplona Vice Mayor Joel Remolano asks

NEGROS ORIENTAL, Philippines – Ending violence on Negros Island, a hotbed of insurgency and political violence, has been a long-running struggle. 

After the province’s longtime Governor Roel Degamo was killed in a brazen daylight massacre on March 4, the people of his town have “run out of fear,” according to Joel Remolano, Pamplona’s vice mayor.

Ubos na ang takot namin. Dati pa kami takot (Our fear has run out. We’ve always been afraid),” the vice mayor said.

Thousands gathered in the town of Siaton, about an hour away from Dumaguete, to pay their last respects to the slain Degamo. One supporter whom Rappler spoke to said they are learning to be more courageous in calling for justice.

“If they can do this to the governor, how much more to us ordinary people?”

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Who is Roel Degamo, the slain Negros Oriental governor?

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The procession of Degamo’s body began from his house in Barangay Bonawon, about two kilometers from the Bonawon Catholic Church, where his funeral services will be held. 

People in the crowd, who wore “Justice for Roel Degamo” shirts, wailed as Degamo’s body was loaded into the hearse. Hundreds of police and military personnel were posted at every intersection along the route to Siaton. Around the province, more checkpoints were set up, and military presence was intensified upon orders of national authorities following Degamo’s assassination.

For Remolano, this was the only viable way to maintain peace and order in the heart of Negros – which late Negrense Bishop Antonio Fortich called a “social volcano.”

Talagang makatulong, ang daming security ngayon. Kahit saan ka pupunta, may checkpoint. ‘Yong mga masasamang elemento, maalarma din sila (It really helps that there are a lot of security personnel. Wherever you go, there are checkpoints. Goons will be alarmed by this),” the vice mayor noted.

But the local official also questioned why the national government acted in the province only after Degamo’s assassination: “Mismo ang pulis ang nagsabi kung sila lang dito, hindi makamit ang hustisya. Kailangan talaga ang national government mag-implementar dito. Bakit ngayon pa ang national government nakialam na wala na si governor?

(The police themselves said that if it’s only them, justice will not be achieved. The national government should be the one to implement peace and order here. Why is the national government intervening now when our governor is already dead?)

The local official also called on the other suspects and masterminds who remain at large to surrender.

Degamo, Negros Oriental’s governor since 2011, was gunned down in Pamplona town on March 4 while attending an aid distribution event. The suspects – some of whom are former military personnel – were nabbed and currently facing charges over the death of Degamo and eight others.

Almost two weeks since the governor was assassinated, the authorities have yet to name possible masterminds behind the killing, although Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla earlier announced that around three to four people might have planned the assassination. Remulla also said no one would be exempted from the probe.

To allow residents to mourn Degamo’s passing, Malacañang declared March 16 a special non-working holiday in Negros Oriental. The slain governor will be laid to rest in Siaton town on Thursday afternoon. –

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Nobuhiko Matsunaka


Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at