By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – Pamplona, Negros Oriental Mayor Janice Degamo said her husband, Governor Roel Degamo, received threats the latter was killed at their house in the said town on Saturday, March 4.
In a media interview at the wake of her husband in their house in Dumaguete City on Sunday, Mayor Degamo said that the most recent threat was two weeks ago when their family went to Church.
She said that their guards saw a suspicious personality at the Church, and when their security aides tried to approach this man, the latter immediately left the area.
But she said they did not take it seriously at that time.
Mayor Degamo believed that the things that happened previously could be part of the assassination plan against the governor.
Governor Degamo was killed along with eight others, including two barangay officials, while he was talking to constituents who were asking for assistance.
Seventeen others, including a medical doctor and two soldiers, were wounded in the gun attack.
Mayor Degamo said that based on the closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage that circulated on social media, the attack was organized and the perpetrators were prepared.
She said that the suspects pushed their way to the compound even if they were barred at the gate by the guard because they have guns and the security personnel did not recognize them.
“Everything happened so fast. Nangyari na eh, noong una, we weren’t serious about it (threats),“ she added.
Mayor Degamo said that the governor would welcome people who would come to their house even on Saturday.
She said that she was supposed to attend an activity at the town’s gymnasium that day for the enrollment of new members of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) while the governor had a separate activity.
The governor would regularly meet his constituents regardless of the kind of assistance they need. Thus, he would also invite all the department heads to cater the needs of the people, she said.
“Saturday morning is for the people kasi minsan hindi nila maabutan si Gov sa Capitol because he has lots of appointments,” she said.
When asked for the possible motive of the killing, Mayor Degamo believed that it was politically motivated.
Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., during a press briefing at Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office on Sunday, has assured the people of the province that justice will be served soon.
“The forces of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office as well as the police in neighboring provinces have been deployed to explore every corner of the area to immediately arrest the criminals,” he said.
For his part, PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr., also assured to provide additional security to elected local officials if there is a need to beef up their security to ensure their safety.
He also advised the officials not to feel comfortable in their comfort zones because the enemy may find a chance to attack.
Following the assumption to office of Vice Governor Carlo Jorge Joan Reyes, as the new provincial governor, board member Manuel Sagarbarria also took his oath before Abalos as the new vice governor of Negros Oriental on Sunday, March 5.
Meanwhile, Senator Imee Marcos, who visited the wake of Degamo in Dumaguete City on Sunday, urged her brother President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to place Negros Oriental under state of emergency following the assassination of Governor Degamo and eight others.
Marcos, who had worked with Degamo in the Governors’ League when she was still the governor of Ilocos Norte, also said that Negros Oriental should be locked down so those who were behind the killing could not leave the province.
“Nananawagan ako na ideklara na sa lalong madaling panahon ang state of emergency sa entero probinsya ng Negros Oriental. Kailangan matigil at mahuli itong mga ito hindi lamang ‘yung mga hitmen or ‘yung pumatay kundi ‘yung mga mastermind, mga paymaster nila, at sinuman ang nag-conspire para mangyari ito,” Marcos said in a media interview.
The senator hopes that the arrested suspects will cooperate and could lead to the identification of other individuals responsible for the gun attack.
“Let us leave no stone unturned and no culprits unpunished. This cannot go unpunished and the perpetrators of this heinous crime, barbaric as it is and cowardly, should be punished as soon as possible,” the senator said.
Marcos was supposed to visit the province on March 28 to lead the distribution of Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation to single mothers, persons with disabilities, and senior citizens.
“Ang lungkot nga eh. Pinapunta niya pa lahat ng tao sa kapitolyo on a Saturday sa bahay niya para matapos ‘yung listahan at magawa na ‘yung program ko. It’s really a shame and I know what Roel been through in the past one and a half year. It has been very hard for him,” Marcos said.