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3 suspects in Gov. Degamo killing arrested

The Philippine National Police and Philippine Army arrested three suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo during a hot pursuit operation in Bayawan City.

Police identified the suspects as:

  • 50-year-old former Army soldier Joric Labrador, a resident of Cagayan de Oro City;
  • 42-year-old former Army Ranger Joven Aber, a resident of La Castellana, Negros Occidental; and
  • 45-year-old Benjie Rodriguez, a resident of Mindanao.

The suspects were arrested in Sitio Punong, Barangay Cansumalig at 4:20 p.m.

The Philippine Army confirmed that two of the arrested suspects are former soldiers.

"Notably, they were dishonorably discharged from the military service several years back as they did not meet the standards of discipline among our ranks," the PA said in a statement. 

"As a highly professional organization, the Philippine Army does not condone the unauthorized use of uniforms, firearms, or insignia by any group or individual. The Army strongly condemns this cowardly act of the perpetrators in order to deceive and mislead the authorities and ordinary people," it added.

The PA said it stands in solidarity with the law enforcement authorities in the prompt resolution of the case to give justice to the victims.

Gunmen killed Degamo and five other victims Saturday morning while the governor was distributing aid at his residence in Pamplona.

According to investigators, there were six shooters wearing pixelized uniforms and carrying long firearms. 

The suspects used three getaway vehicles, a Mitsubishi Pajero with plate number NQZ 735, an Isuzu pickup with plate number GRY 162, and a Mitsubishi Montero with plate number YAP 163.

The vehicles were found abandoned in Barangay Cansumalig.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. denounced the "assassination of a sitting governor," and said his government would not rest until the perpetrators were brought to justice.

"I am warning all those involved in this killing: you can run but you cannot hide. We will find you. If you surrender now, it will be your best option," Marcos added.

Even as the Department of the Interior and Local Government ordered the Philippine National Police to conduct manhunt operations for the gunmen, the Department of Justice had offered a P5 million reward for anyone who could provide information on who was behind the killings.

Degamo served as Governor of Negros Oriental from January 5, 2011, but was initially unseated by a rival in the May 2022 elections.

However, his rival's proclamation as provincial governor was annulled, and Degamo's victory was upheld by the Supreme Court after the votes obtained by a nuisance candidate were credited in his favor. — with Richa Noriega/DVM/VBL, GMA Integrated News