By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) deployed 300 additional soldiers to augment the peace and security operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Negros Oriental following the killing of Governor Roel Ragay Degamo and eight others.
The additional personnel came from the 11th, 15th, 47th, 62nd, 79th, and 94th Infantry Battalions (IBs) which comprised the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under the newly formed Special Joint Task Force (SJTF) Negros.
Brigadier General Marion Sison, 3ID commander and SJTF Negros head, assured the people of Negros Oriental that the Army will not stop until the situation has normalized.
“We are more than willing to give our full support to the government’s effort to serve justice to all the victims and prevent the same incident from happening again,” Sison said in a statement.
Sison stressed that the people’s safety is their top priority, hence, they are sending the troops to secure them while the case is ongoing.
“Rest assured that your Army will always be your protector and defend you at all cost,” Sison said.
The killing of Degamo and eight civilians happened at his residence in Pamplona town while the slain governor was meeting with constituents on March 4. Seventeen others were also wounded in the gun attack.
Four suspects, including three former military personnel, who were “dishonorably discharged from the service,” were arrested hours after the shooting incident happened.
The deployment of more soldiers was also intended to win back the confidence of the people in the government forces, according to Lieutenant Colonel Roderick Salayo, 11th IB commander.
For his part, Brigadier General Leonardo Peña, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said the additional troopers shall strengthen security deployment in the province to prevent the escape of the remaining suspects.
The arrested suspects and 12 “John Does” have been criminally charged while pursuit operations against the remaining suspects are ongoing.
On March 11, SJTF Negros was created on orders of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to beef up peace and security operations and restore the normalcy and confidence of the Negrenses.
National Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. during his visit to the province over the weekend, reiterated the President’s order to give justice to the families and loved ones of the victims.
The AFP component of the SJTF Negros comprises two Brigades and six battalions, and a company of elite troops from the Light Reaction Regiment.
Meanwhile, the PNP will deploy more Special Action Force (SAF) troopers to augment PNP units in the area and the SJTF forces.
Degamo’s remains lie in state at his hometown in Siaton town starting Monday, March 13.