Degamo slay planned since December
The plan to murder Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo was hatched as early as December last year, police investigators revealed Thursday.
In a press conference, Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson for the Special Investigation Task Group Degamo, said one of the gunmen confessed that some of the 17 identified suspects gathered as early as December to study Degamo’s movements and their plan of attack.
“They were gathered, they were briefed in a particular place, in a safe house, so that when they have an opportune time, they will launch the attack,” he added, saying the hit men came from Visayas and Mindanao.
Degamo and eight others were gunned down by at least 12 men in military uniforms inside his family’s compound in Pamplona town on March 4 as he attended to his constituents. He and eight others later died while 16 others were injured.
Pelare still declined to identify their suspected mastermind, but he said they now have in custody four suspects—Joric Labrador, Joven Javier, Benjie Rodriguez and Osmundo Rivero—who all agreed to cooperate.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the evidence points to a conspiracy and three or four people may be behind the killing.
“It’s a conspiracy, but there is a mastermind. There may be three or four people who conspired, made the plan and hired others … that’s what we’re studying now,” Remulla told reporters.
Asked if Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. was among the suspects, the justice secretary just said: “We’re investigating everybody who may have something to do with what has been happening in Negros Oriental. Bar none. We are not exempting anybody.”
“What I know is that Congress gave Congressman Teves until today to return home from the US. No extension was given to him. So we’re hoping that he’ll return home,” said Remulla.
Remulla said there are “many other murder cases that are being rooted about that were mentioned to us that we have to investigate further.“
Remulla said names were mentioned to them during their visit and the National Bureau of Investigation has been ordered to investigate.
Remulla was among the officials who accompanied President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Degamo’s wake in Dumaguete City on Thursday.
The President spoke with the mayor for over an hour and discussed ways to help the eight other people who were killed and the 16 others who were wounded. “I just came here to extend sympathies to the family of Governor Roel and asked them what we need to do to provide help to victims, including those currently in the hospital,” Marcos said after leaving the wake.
Multiple death threats
After the wake, Degamo’s remains will be taken to his hometown of Siaton town on March 13 and buried beside his parents and sister on March 16.
Degamo’s wife, Pamplona Mayor Janice Vallega-Degamo, said she was “hopeful” that her husband’s death would not be in vain and even help stop the numerous killings in the province.
“This means there is a chance that we will know the mastermind and the real motive behind the killing,” she said, adding that her husband had already been receiving multiple death threats.
“If his death would end all the violence [in the province] because we will be able to unmask the brains behind the killings, then let it be,” she said in an interview on dzBB on Wednesday.