Degamo slay suspect killed; another nabbed
MANILA, Philippines — A suspect in the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo was gunned down after allegedly trading shots with law enforcers on Saturday night, while another was arrested on Sunday morning, authorities said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police vowed to catch the brains and all six gunmen behind the brazen attack on the governor on Saturday morning in which eight others were killed and 17 were wounded.
The suspect was killed by combined forces of the PNP and the Philippine Army. He remained unidentified as of this reporting.
Authorities said the shootout took place in Sitio Punong, Barangay Cansumalig, Bayawan City, at around 9 p.m.
Another suspect was arrested in Bayawan City on Sunday morning and was identified as Osmundo Rivero of Zamboanga City, a taxi driver.
Three other alleged gunmen — Joric Labrador, 50; Joven Aber, 42; and Benjie Rodriguez, 45 — were arrested earlier on Saturday afternoon.
Col. Gerard Pelare, spokesperson for the Central Visayas police, said “all ports and exit points have been sealed so there’s no way for [any of the other suspects] to leave the province.”
Around 10 persons are believed to have played a role in the assassination, according to Pelare.
The three who were earlier arrested “actually gave good revelations that led us in conducting further hot pursuit operations,” Pelare said without giving other details, citing police protocols.
Former Army soldiers
Investigators also learned that Aber, Labrador, Rivero and Rodriguez were all former Army soldiers.
Except for Rivero, whose background is still being determined, the three were dishonorably discharged for going absent without leave.
Rodriguez was part of the 35th Infantry Battalion of the 11th Infantry Division (11ID); Labrador was from the Mechanized Infantry Battalion of 4ID; while Aber was part of the Light Reaction Battalion, the Army’s premier counterterrorist unit, records showed.
Degamo, 56, was shot at his home in Pamplona town by one of six men wearing Army uniforms and bulletproof vests. They were let in by a security guard as he was meeting with constituents and other officials.
The four-time governor died in hospital less than two hours later that morning.
Among the other fatalities were his driver, videographer and bodyguard.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said in the same briefing that “I will do everything to ensure that the mastermind will be jailed.”
League of Municipalities of the Philippines president emeritus Luis “Chavit” Singson condemned the “ruthless” killing.
“This is truly a sad day. I pray for justice to be served the soonest,” Singson said in a statement. “To the bereaved family, my sincere condolences. We are with you in this difficult time.”
The Department of Justice has offered a P5-million reward for any useful information on Degamo’s killers.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to launch its own investigation.
Law enforcers also recovered a cache of firearms they believe were used by the perpetrators, including five 5.56 mm assault rifles and a B40 rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
These were found after the suspects abandoned three getaway vehicles in Barangay Cansumalig and fled on foot, according to police.
On Saturday evening, Abalos administered the oath of office to Vice Gov. Carlo Jorge Joan “Guido” Reyes as the new governor.
Degamo was the fourth victim in a string of armed attacks on government officials over the past two weeks.
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Adiong Jr. and Mayor Ohto Montawal of Datu Montawal town, Maguindanao del Sur province, each survived an attack on their lives on Feb. 17 and Feb. 22, respectively, while Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda died in an ambush on Feb. 19.
Degamo’s killing came after the Supreme Court on Feb. 14 confirmed his victory in the 2022 gubernatorial race against former Negros Oriental Rep. Pryde Henry Teves.