NegOr vice guv assumes governor’s post after Degamo slay

Vice Governor Carlo Jorge Joan Reyes takes oath before DILG Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr. as the new governor of Negros Oriental. (Photos courtesy of DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr.)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Negros Oriental Vice Governor Carlo Jorge Joan Reyes has been sworn into office on Saturday as the province’s new governor following the killing of Governor Roel Degamo.

Reyes took his oath of office before Interior and Local Government Secretary Atty. Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos Jr. who arrived in the province that day.

Abalos also condemned the killing of Degamo who was shot at his residence in Pamplona town on Saturday morning. The gun attack also killed eight others, including two barangay officials, while 17 others were wounded, including a doctor and two soldiers.

“Madiing kinokendena ng administrasyon ang karumaldumal na pagpaslang kay former Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo at sa iba pang mga biktima ng karahasang naganap,” Abalos said.

Degamo was distributing aid to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) when armed men wearing pixelized uniforms and carrying long firearms barged in and fired shots.

A copy of a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage believed to be from Degamo’s bouse was circulating on social media. It showed some armed men entering a compound and shooting at some individuals.

The Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (Norppo), however, did not confirm if it was the footage of the shooting incident, as it did not come from them or the governor’s family.

One suspect died during pursuit operations while three others were arrested in Bayawan City, hours after the deadly gun attack happened. Authorities are still conducting hot pursuit operations against the remaining suspects.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Saturday offered a P5 million reward for any information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of the killers of Degamo.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the incident.

“The department, together with all the other law enforcement agencies, will not rest until justice is met. The killers as well as the mastermind/s will be uncovered and will be held accountable for the incident,” Remulla said in a statement.

“The violent and senseless manner by which the perpetrators carried out their plan cannot and will not be tolerated. Not only did they kill their target, but they killed innocent civilians along the way. There is absolutely no room for such evil doings in this country,” he added.

A conference was held yesterday at the provincial police office with the presence of Abalos, local authorities, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, General Andres Centio, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); and PNP Chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr.

Senator Imee Marcos also came to the province to visit the wake of Degamo at their house in Dumaguete City yesterday.

Marcos, in a statement, said that she is calling for the immediate resolution of the crime and the apprehension of the perpetrators.

“Huwag sana natin hayaang maging mitsa ito sa ating kapayapaan bilang bansang naguumpisa pa lamang bumangon mula sa pandemya,” the senator added.


President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., vows to bring Degamo’s assassins to justice.

In a statement, President Marcos said that the government will not rest until they have brought the perpetrators of this “dastardly and heinous crime” to justice.

He condemned in the strongest possible terms the assassination of Degamo, as he warned all those involved in the killing. “You can run, but you cannot hide. We will find you. If you surrender now, it will be your best option,” the President said.

President Marcos said that the investigation into this murder is developing rapidly. We have received much information and now have a clear direction on how to proceed to bring to justice those behind this killing, he added.

Meanwhile, Vice President Sara Duterte, in a statement, said that Degamo’s death is a tragedy to the province of Negros Oriental and she is one with the grieving people of the province, his friends, and his family.

Duterte urged the authorities to immediately probe this “cowardly, evil act,” and bring the perpetrators to justice and pay for their crime, especially the brains behind it.

Duterte said that authorities must start looking at the political feud that has gripped Negros Oriental and has taken so many lives, not just of Degamo.

“The attack exposes the extent of desperation, depravity, and thirst for violence of the people who masterminded it as they showed an absolute absence of regard for the lives of the five civilians who were among the fatalities — making it all the more appalling and unforgivable,” the vice president said.

Top government officials here and in Negros Occidental also called for justice as they condemned the killing of Degamo and others – who were just there to seek assistance.

In a statement, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said that he mourned the loss of Degamo.

“We need to put a stop to violent crimes such as this,” Lacson said as he earnestly hope that justice will prevail.

Lacson said that the people and government officials deserve to live in peace and should be able to live free from fear.

“On behalf of the people of Negros Occidental, I offer my prayers and sincerest sympathies to Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo and her family, and also to the families of those who were killed with him. May their souls rest in peace,” Lacson said.

For his part, Bacolod Mayor Alfredo ‘Albee’ Benitez, said that he is one of those who call for swift justice and that the perpetrators be caught to face the consequences of their actions.

“It is with full conviction that I condemn this unacceptable and deplorable heinous crime,” Benitez said in a statement, as he expressed his sincerest condolences to the Degamo family.

Third district Rep. Jose Francisco ‘Kiko’ Benitez also condemned in the strongest possible terms the murder of Degamo. “Violence has no place in the Negros island,” he said in a statement.

He joined the call to bring to justice the individuals who committed this despicable act, as he prayed for peace in Negros island.

Also, in a statement, Most Rev. Julito B. Cortes, bishop of Dumaguete, said he strongly condemns this heartbreaking and senseless act of murder in Negros Oriental.

“How can we ever attain lasting peace if this culture of violence continues to torment us? When will this cycle of killings ever stop?” Cortes asked.

“The passing of the late Governor Roel Degamo, under violent circumstances has shaken all of us,” Cortes said, as he expressed his deep sadness and sincerest condolences to Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo and the rest of the Degamo family, and the families of the other victims of the assassination.

“We pray, then, that the perpetrators behind this bloodshed be brought to justice soon,” he said.

“Let us remain calm and vigilant. Do not allow anger or fear to consume us,” he said, as he urged all government agencies, national and local, especially the police and military, to work closely together for the speedy resolution of these cases.

In 2019, at least 21 people, including 17 civilians and four policemen, were killed in a series of shooting incidents in Negros Oriental from July 18 to July 28. The killings continued in the month of August, claiming at least four more lives.

Degamo was the latest government official victimized by a gun attack this year.

Last month, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto-Adiong Jr. was wounded, while four of his companions were killed in an ambush on Feb. 17.

Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda and five others were also killed in an ambush in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya on Feb. 19.

On Feb. 22, Datu Montawal, Maguindanao del Sur Mayor Ohto Caumbo Montawal was wounded after two gunmen shot him while he was inside his vehicle in Pasay City.


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