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'Pattern of impunity' discovered in Negros Oriental after Degamo killing, says Remulla

Officials are seeing a "pattern of impunity" in Negros Oriental following the March 4 killing of Governor Roel Degamo at his residence, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Thursday.

"What comes out is a pattern. It's a pattern of impunity that we did not sense before. It is something that is so new to us," said Remulla, who visited Degamo's wake on Wednesday evening along with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos.

"It's very hard to imagine this happening before. But now that this (killing of Degamo) happened, the stories are beginning to make sense that there was a pattern of impunity within the area," he added.

Degamo and five others were shot dead in broad daylight while he was distributing aid to his constituents at his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental. Several others were critically wounded in the attack, and the following day that death toll had climbed to nine.

Without elaborating, Remulla said names were mentioned to them during their visit. He said the National Bureau of Investigation will call these individuals as part of its efforts to unmask the brains behind the killing.

"There will be more cases filed about past incidents that were dismissed before, that were not attended to before but would not constitute double jeopardy on the part of the accused," he said.

"So this is not just about nine murders, they may be more, more cases to be investigated, besides even the ones, the three cases, brought by Atty. Baligod brought here on Tuesday," Remulla added.

Atty. Levito Baligod represented the complainants in the filing of three counts of murder complaints against Negros Oriental Representative Arnie Teves for his alleged involvement in several killings in the province in 2019.

Asked if Teves is among those that will be called by the NBI, Remulla said, "Meron pang iba [there are others]. Basta there are many murder cases that are being rooted about that were mentioned to us that we have to investigate further."

When pressed to confirm if Teves is being officially investigated, the Justice secretary said, "Well, we're investigating everybody who may have something to do with what has been happening in Negros Oriental. Bar none. We are not exempting anybody."

Remulla said Teves, who has denied involvement in the killing of Degamo, has not made any effort to reach out to him.

"They know me well enough that this is business. They know me," he said.

Meanwhile, Remulla said Marcos had given assistance to the families.

"Of course, we were there at the wake of the governor but the families also went there to see the President. So kinausap niya isa isa and he made sure that assistance is given to them," he said.

Remulla previously said the “end is near” in the investigation on the killing of Degamo. He also revealed that the suspects had a video conversation with the alleged mastermind.

Four suspects in the Degamo killing are currently in police custody, with at least five more still at large.

Abalos has already ordered the replacement of all police personnel in Negros Oriental, starting with Bayawan City, following the killing of Degamo. —KBK, GMA Integrated News