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Leads obtained on Degamo slay mastermind —Azurin

Authorities have obtained information that can lead to the identification of the mastermind behind the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said Monday.

“The continuing investigation into the death of nine persons in Negros Oriental, including Governor Roel Degamo, has uncovered promising leads from evidence and testimonies that will establish the circumstances surrounding the incident and the identification of key players in this multiple murder case,” Azurin said in press briefing.

“I would like to point out that these significant developments in this case are classic textbook examples of swift and decisive action by the DILG, PNP leadership, Regional Special Investigation Task Group of PRO7 and the AFP that is moving us closer to finding the participants and mastermind to this multiple murder case,” he added.

Azurin said four arrested suspects have expressed willingness to cooperate in the investigation and are now preparing their sworn statements and other legal documents.

“As of now, we have not seen 'yung extrajudicial confession ng mga witnesses, but we believe little by little we'll get to the mastermind,” he said.

Azurin said complaints for violation of firearms law and illegal possession of explosives were filed against the suspects.

The arrested suspects provided a location where a large cache of assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades, handguns, ammunition, and body armor vests were found.

Azurin said he was surprised that the confiscated firearms are new and even better compared to the equipment used by the police.

He also said multiple murder and frustrated murder charges are set to be filed against the perpetrators on Monday.

According to Azurin, the PNP is planning to suspend the permit to carry firearms outside of residence in Negros Oriental after Degamo's assassination.

“As soon as we get the recommendation of our area commanders doon sa field, because we give also the opportunity of our leaders in the field to give us the true picture of what is happening,” he said.

On Saturday, Degamo and five others were killed when armed men fired shots while he was distributing aid at his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental. The death toll increased to nine on Sunday.

According to the police, 13 people were seriously injured in the shooting.

A suspect in Degamo’s killing died in an encounter with state forces in Negros Oriental on Saturday.

So far, the police are looking at 10 to 12 suspects in the case and five of them were already accounted for, Special Investigation Task Group Degamo spokesperson Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Pelare said in an interview on ANC. —KBK, GMA Integrated News