Cries of justice ring out in Degamo burial
DUMAGUETE CITY — Under overcast sky on Thursday, thousands of people lined the streets and attended the funeral of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo in his hometown of Siaton town, with appeals for justice ringing out loud.
Family members and supporters wore black and white shirts, many of which printed with the statement, “Justice for Governor Degamo.”
The coffin bearing Degamo’s remains was transferred from the family home in Barangay Bonawon to St. Vincent Ferrer Parish church where the 2 p.m. funeral Mass was held.
Degamo was shot and killed by a group of gunmen while meeting with his constituents at his residential compound in Pamplona town on March 4. Eight others were killed in the attack.
READ: Governor Degamo’s dying words: Help the people
Four suspects—Joric Labrador, Joven Aber, Benjie Rodriguez and Osmundo Rivero—were later arrested and charged, while a fifth suspect was gunned after allegedly engaging law enforcers in a shootout.
In a message after the Mass, Degamo’s widow Janice, also the mayor of Pamplona town, thanked those who supported their family in time of grief.
“I hope you will be with us in prayer so that justice will be served, not only for my husband, but also for the eight others who died with him, and the around 30 other victims of violence here in our province,” she said.
Janice said people in Negros Oriental feared for their lives as there were others who, in their desire to dominate, use money for illegal activities and to kill. She did not name anyone.
“Roel died serving his people. He was so brave to face evil in our province. He always chose peace and yet violence ended his life,” Janice said.
“Roel already finished his mission on earth, and we know that someday, fear among the people of this province will vanish. His death won’t be wasted because people already know what’s going on here,” she added.
READ: 41 seconds only: Gun attack on slain Negros Oriental governor very quick, wife says
Degamo was buried beside his parents and sister in the family compound at 5 p.m.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. declared Thursday a special nonworking holiday in Negros Oriental to allow people to pay their last respects to Degamo. Buses were deployed by the provincial government to bring people for free to Siaton town, located 56 kilometers from the capital city of Dumaguete.
In his homily, Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes called on people to continue praying for an end to violence and atrocities in the province.
“We pray that the cycle of violence and unsolved killings in Negros Oriental end with him (Degamo). May his death be a light in the midst of darkness,” he said.
The bishop said Degamo’s death brought about something good, as it “awakened” those in power to look into the “cycle of violence, killings and impunity” in Negros Oriental.
“We pray that those responsible for this crime may be brought to justice,” Cortes said. “We believe that in God’s own time, the Lord will restore what has been taken from us, what has been taken from you—peace, security and freedom from fear and violence in this province.”
The four suspects, all of them former soldiers, executed extrajudicial confessions, saying a certain “Cong Teves” ordered the murder of Degamo.
Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., a longtime political rival of Degamo, posted a video statement on his Facebook account on February 6, denying any involvement in the murder of the governor.The lawmaker, on several occasions, challenged Degamo to a fistfight through social media posts to settle their political differences.
READ: Cong. Teves condemns brutal killing of Gov. Degamo, denies involvement
On March 7, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) filed charges of multiple murder against Teves and five others over three killings that occurred in Negros Oriental four years ago, including the murder of former Negros Oriental Board Member Miguel Dungog.
On Wednesday, March 15, the CIDG also filed charges against Teves and his two sons over the discovery of unlicensed firearms and explosives in his houses in Negros Oriental on March 10.
TGP rep: I’m not the Teves linked to Degamo killing
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