Massacre mastermind’s end near, DOJ says; NegOr PNP revamp on

The nine Pamplona massacre victims.*

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Wednesday, March 8, that the search for the mastermind behind the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo has been boosted by a supposed video-conference call between the alleged mastermind and the suspects.

While Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said aside from the relief of police personnel in Bayawan City, a revamp of the entire Negros Oriental police force is underway.

“The move to overhaul and relieve the entire police force in Negros Oriental is part of the DILG and PNP’s efforts to double up initiatives in maintaining security in the province, “Abalos said.

Relieving the whole police personnel of the province would help strengthen peace and order in the area, as well as restore the people’s trust in uniformed personnel, he said.

“This is a high profile case and people are enraged. With this move, we hope to calm the public particularly the residents of Negros Oriental”, he said, in reference to the massacre of Degamo and eight others on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Remulla told reporters in Manila that “there’s a statement already to the effect that there was a mastermind, but we have to evaluate it properly.”

The justice chief said that while the motive remains murky, there is evidence of a video conversation between the alleged assailants and the persons giving the orders for the murder.

“No motive was mentioned but the person they were talking to was on video. A live conversation happened on video with the person na tinuturo,” he said.

“I only have read the preliminary statements that were done and I can say that the end is near. This investigation is nearing conclusion except that all the perpetrators have not been rounded up. There are a few more people that we have to round up,” Remulla added.

The four respondents in the gruesome killing of Degamo and eight others were transferred to Manila on Tuesday and the DOJ has said all four have expressed their intention to cooperate with investigators.

A criminal charge for three counts of murder and frustrated murder have been filed before the Tanjay, Negros Oriental Regional Trial Court against Joric Labrador, Joven Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, Osmundo Rivera and 12 other John Does.

Separate charges for illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives were filed against three of the respondents in the Bayawan City regional trial court.

The Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod on Tuesday, March 7, condemned the assassination of Degamo and the murder of eight others.

The Bacolod SP, in a resolution authored by Councilor Claudio “Kalaw” Puentevella, also sent its condolences to the families of the victims of the massacre in Pamplona.

“The city government of Bacolod strongly condemns the callous, barbaric and evil acts, which have no place in a civilized and democratic society,” the resolution said.

The resolution also called on authorities to render swift justice.

Kapatiran, formerly part of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front, also condemned the killing of Degamo and eight others.

“Kapatiran greatly feels the loss from the death of the late Governor Roel Degamo as he did so much not only to support but more importantly to move forward the implementation of the commitments contained in the peace agreement signed between the government and our group,” Gozon said.

“Even before the 2022 elections, he worked together with many local executives in Negros Oriental to provide for livelihood and infrastructure projects during his previous terms as the governor of the province. And we have witnessed the many times when he did the extra mile of giving his personal touch to the peace process as he warmly talked with, listened to and provided for the needs of many former rebels”, he added

“We salute the late Roel Degamo for offering his life in service to the people and courageously advancing the cause of peace in Negros Oriental,” Gozon said.

“Let us work together to bring to justice all those responsible for this violent and criminal act,” he added.*with a report from PNA

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