The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday said it has referred two out of three suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo to the witness protection program.
Gunmen killed Degamo on Saturday morning while the governor was distributing aid at his residence in Pamplona. The death toll due to the incident has climbed to 9.
“Yung dalawa po doon sa… nahuli po no na respondents po natin dito sa murder case ni Governor Degamo ay tinitignan po ng DOJ kung pwede sila ipapasok sa witness protection program,” Justice spokesperson Mico Clavano said in an ambush interview.
“So we will see throughout the day after the evaluation nung mga statements nila kung talagang pwede na silang ipasok sa witness protection program ng DOJ,” he later added.
On Saturday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army arrested 50-year-old former Army soldier Joric Labrador, 42-year-old former Army Ranger Joven Aber, and 45-year-old Benjie Rodriguez during a hot pursuit operation in Bayawan City.
One suspect, meanwhile, died in an encounter with state forces.
During a press conference, Justice Undersecretary Nicholas Ty said the DOJ is coordinating with the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to transfer the suspects to the National Capital Region for protective custody.
Multiple murder complaints
Meanwhile, Interior secretary Benhur Abalos said that multiple murder complaints have been filed against the suspects before the Provincial Prosecutor of Dumaguete.
A complaint for violation of Republic Act 10591 was also filed before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Bayawan.
Ty said the suspects have also undergone inquest proceedings.
“So we anticipate that a resolution, an inquest resolution will be released within the day,” Ty said.
Asked if the DILG is looking into a political angle for the killing, Abalos said that all angles are being considered.
“Ang masasabi ko lang, kamukha nung kanina, maselan ito. Lahat ng anggulo tinitignan,” he said.
[All I can say is this is a sensitive case. We are looking at all angles.]
The Interior Secretary also urged other suspects to surrender. He earlier said approximately 10 individuals were seen present during the shooting.
“Alam niyo yung mga kasangkot dito, unang una, ako ay nanawagan sa inyo, nahuli na yung mga kasama ninyo, kung ako sa inyo, it’s better for you to surrender dahil bukod sa nahuli na, meron pang mga pabuyang lumalabas para sa inyo,” Abalos said.
[I am calling on the other suspects to surrender because your some of your companions have been arrested and there is a [monetary] reward for your arrest.]
The DOJ has offered a P5 million reward for anyone who can give information on who was behind the killing of Degamo.
Earlier in the day, National Police chief Police General Rodolfo Azurin said authorities have obtained information that can lead to the identification of the mastermind behind the killing of Degamo.
“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 at a 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. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News