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Marcos says Degamo killing 'can't go unpunished'

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Monday branded the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo as unacceptable and terrifying, and vowed that it will not go unpunished.

"The killing of Governor Degamo is entirely unacceptable and it will not stand. This cannot go unpunished," Marcos told reporters in an interview, adding such crime "does not belong in our society."

"This one is particularly terrifying," the President said.

Gunmen killed Degamo on Saturday morning while he was distributing aid at his residence in Pamplona. The attack also left eight other people dead.


Meanwhile, Marcos tasked the Department of the Interior and Local Government, including the police force, to identify the "hotspots" following the recent killings of local government officials.

He said he instructed DILG chief Benhur Abalos to determine the areas that can be considered as hotspots, similar to what is done during the election season.

"Actually, ang sinabi ko sa ating [DILG] Secretary Abalos and then the PNP is to now make an examination, kagaya ng ating ginagawa kapag darating ang eleksyon," Marcos said.

"Gawin niyo ulit ngayon, don't think of the elections first but think ano 'yung mga hotspots, 'yung mga mainit na lugar tingnan natin," he added.

(Actually, what I told DILG Secretary Abalos and the PNP is, just like in the elections, determine the hotspots.)

Marcos also stressed the need to dismantle private armies as well as locate and seize the illegal firearms to curb these killings.

"Basta't kakaunti 'yung illegal firearms, kakaunti 'yung ganyang klaseng krimen. 'Yung mga private army na ganyan, kailangan talaga i-dismantle," Marcos said.

(There would be fewer crimes like that if there would be fewer illegal firearms. Private armies should be dismantled.)

Suspects arrested

State forces, meanwhile, have arrested three suspects in the killing of Degamo — 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 authorities.

Abalos earlier said 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.

Abalos said all angles are being considered for the motive of the crime, including politics.

Abalos also called on other suspects to surrender, noting that approximately 10 individuals were seen present during the attack on Degamo, which also left eight other people dead.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice said it has referred two out of three suspects to the witness protection program.


Marcos also said the ambush incidents involving local government officials have started to be political.

"Actually, if you think of the three cases that came in, iba-iba talaga (they vary). But then they started to become political. 'Yung dalawa, 'yung first two of the three actually baka hindi political (the first two of the three could be not political). But, the other, ito this is purely political," Marcos said.

"That's why we are looking and getting all the best intelligence we can from our people on the ground to tell us where the places we should be looking at," he added.

The assassination of Degamo is the most recent incident in the string of attacks on government officials, including the ambushes on Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. on February 17; Aparri Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda on February 19; Maguindanao del Sur Mayor Ohto Caumbo Montawal on February 22; and Lipa, Batangas Barangay Captain Vivencio Palo last week.—KBK/RSJ, GMA Integrated News