By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command (AGC)-Negros Island Regional Operational Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) denounced the killing of Governor Roel Ragay Degamo and eight civilians in Negros Oriental.
In a statement released to the media yesterday, Ka Maoche Legislador, spokesperson of AGC-NPA, said the killing, which they considered a “brazen massacre”, was an act of violence that demonstrated the systemic culture of impunity in Negros.
Degamo and eight others, including two barangay officials, were killed in a gun attack at his residence in Pamplona town on March 4. Seventeen others, including two soldiers and a medical doctor, were also wounded in the incident.
The group slammed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the said killing, considering that three perpetrators in the assassination of Degamo were former military personnel.
The group believed that the deployment of more military troopers and police to Negros Oriental is part of the heightened militarization in Negros in the context of dismantling the revolutionary forces in the island.
“Instead of going after the mastermind and conspirators of the Pamplona massacre, the AGC-NPA expects more intense and violent massive attacks on guerrilla fronts and guerrilla zones of the NPA especially in central and southern Negros, where the AFP and PNP absurdly claim the rest of the perpetrators are in hiding,” Legislador said.
Thus, the AGC-NPA directed all guerrilla fronts to stay alert against military attacks and seize the opportunities of mounting effective tactical offensives against their enemy.
The people of Negros must be defended from “vicious” focused military operations, and justice will be delivered to the victims, the group said.
The Army has earlier clarified that the deployment of additional personnel to the province is to establish peace and order in the island, to bring back the confidence of the people in the government forces, and arrest the remaining suspects in Degamo’s assassination.
Four arrested suspects and 12 “John Does” have been criminally charged. Authorities are still conducting hot pursuit operations against the remaining suspects.