Degamo slay mastermind believed to be former soldier
MANILA, Philippines — The mastermind of the brazen killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo is believed to be a former soldier, Joint Task Force Negros spokesperson Maj. Cenon Pancito III said on Monday.
Pancito, who spoke on behalf of the 50-member light reaction company tasked to augment deployed forces in Negros Island following the Degamo killing, was asked on Monday if the mastermind of the murder behind the murder was also a former soldier like the four other suspected gunmen earlier arrested by authorities.
“We believe so. Based on the description, based on the training, there is [some] reason for us to believe that he is a former member of the Philippine Army,” he said in an interview on ABS-CBN News’ Headstart.
Pancito made no clear mention, however, of what could be the suspected former soldier’s motives for orchestrating the killing of Degamo.
INQUIRER.net has also reached out to Army spokesperson Xerxes Trinidad to clarify, but he has yet to respond as of posting time.
Pancito said six suspects in the murder have already been arrested, while four others remain at-large. He noted, however, that it is “clear that these 10 are not just operating on their own.”
“They have tentacles of violence. They have support systems that we also have to look into,” he added.
‘Big, powerful’ mastermind
The investigation, Pancito said, so far “points to someone big, someone powerful.”
Earlier, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the department is looking at three to four masterminds who conspired to kill Degamo.
Pancito said the suspects had not directly mentioned any person as the mastermind of the killing – even as the special investigation task group investigating the Degamo case linked Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves to the assassination.
“There were links of people, [but] it has to pass through several levels. We have to investigate the different levels, so we can really get through who really instructed it,” Pancito said.
He pointed out that they have yet to gather more information about the amount of money the assailants would have been given for the hit job since one of the suspects who was in charge and had a “direct connection” with the people behind the killing is still at-large.
Pancito also said they believe the suspects who remain on the loose are still in Negros Oriental, which is why they have augmented their forces in the province’s ports.
He further bared that while the general order given to them was to resolve the case as soon as possible, the timeline on their end is to get to the bottom of the killing in one or two weeks.
“With the help of the populace [and] with the help of the right people giving information, I think the closure to the Pamplona massacre is really near its end,” Pancito added.
Degamo and eight others were killed by heavily armed men that barged into his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental on March 4. Sixteen others, including three provincial officials, were wounded.