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CHR launches probe on killings targeting gov't officials

The Commission on Human Rights has launched a probe into the ongoing spate of violence targeting government officials, including the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

CHR issued the statement a week after the killing of Degamo, who was shot dead by armed men as he was distributing government subsidies for poor households. Eight others were also killed in the incident.

"As the country’s independent national human rights institution, CHR has launched a motu proprio investigation on the incident, parallel to the efforts of the Philippine National Police (PNP)," the CHR said in a Friday statement.

"These reoccurring acts of arbitrary deprivation of life need to be addressed and vehemently condemned to assure all Filipinos that the government and its law enforcement agencies are committed to protecting its citizens’ human rights," the CHR added.

Aside from Degamo, other local officials killed in the last nine months include:

  • Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda  (February 19, 2023)
  • Former Dipaculao, Aurora Vice Mayor, Narciso Amansec  (October 3, 2022)
  • Former Vice Mayor of Dolores, Quezon, Danilo Amat (July 22, 2022)
  • San Carlos Barangay Captain Vivencio Palo in Lipa, Batangas (February 26, 2023)
  • Sto. Domingo Barangay Chairman Richard Biraquit in Piat, Cagayan  (January 23, 2023)

The CHR, however, recognized the efforts of the police and the Senate’s expression of grave concern and call for action in a Resolution urging law enforcement agencies “to undertake the necessary steps in ensuring the safety of all to address the rampant violence and killings, including the prompt, impartial, and efficient investigation and prosecution of cases.”

The police earlier said that Degamo’s suspected killers were dishonorably discharged from the Philippine Army; the fourth was a taxi driver; and the fifth unidentified suspect was killed during hot pursuit operations.

Of the said individuals, four of the identified suspects are now in police custody and are facing murder charges at the Bayawan City Regional Trial Court.

The Department of Justice, however, said that there are still "persons of interest who remain at large."

The two suspects, meanwhile, pointed to a certain “Cong Teves” as the one who allegedly ordered the hit on Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

"CHR acknowledges the swift response of law enforcement authorities in apprehending these perpetrators and their continuing efforts to locate the mastermind and other accomplices in this brazen act of violence," the CHR said.

"This perpetuating culture of violence must be cut short before it becomes normalized... In fulfillment of our mandate to promote and protect the right to life, liberty, and security, CHR will closely cooperate with government agencies to promote fairness, transparency, and impartiality in these cases," it added. —VAL, GMA Integrated News