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Degamo slay task group created, resolution of case nearing —PNP

Degamo slay task group created, resolution of case nearing —PNP

The Philippine National Police on Saturday announced the creation of a special task force (STF) to pursue the remaining suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, saying that the resolution of the case is near.

PNP spokesperson Police Colonel Jean Fajardo said that “STF Degamo” on Saturday afternoon held a meeting — together with representatives from the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) — to discuss the progress of the investigation.

The PNP said DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos has been designated as chairperson.

Further, Fajardo said the PNP and AFP were conducting pursuit operations to capture the remaining suspects, and the NBI was arranging the legal documents with respect to the revelations of the four arrested suspects.

“The creation ng STF Degamo is to really harmonize and to make sure iisa lang direction ng law enforcement agencies so that ang intention natin sabi ng ating Presidente ay gusto niya ay whole of government approach dito po sa kaso na ito to make sure we can immediately the soonest possible time ay maresolba itong kaso na ito,” Fajardo said at a press briefing.

Galvez on Friday said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had ordered the creation of a joint task force composed of two brigades and six battalions to step up to the joint AFP-PNP operations.

Fajardo said the task force believes that they are “nearing the solution of the case” given the pieces of evidence gathered.

“With the pieces of evidence at hand po, naniniwala ang STF that we are nearing the solution of this case. We are just finalizing some of the evidence at hand kasama na po yung mga material revelation at pieces of evidence including po mga forensic evidence collected by the forensic group of PNP. The STF is really confident that in the coming days we can unmask already the people behind these heinous crimes,” Fajardo said.

“Yung mga suspect na nagbigay ng material information regarding sa iba pa po na we are still accounting for more or less six to seven persons kasama yung five pa na actually participated doon sa nangyaring pamamaril kay Governor Degamo at ilang biktima including yung possible masterminds sa kaso na ito,” she added.

Fajardo said the joint task force believes that the remaining suspects are still in Negros Oriental, adding that nearby provinces have placed random checkpoints. 

The PNP spokesperson said the arrested suspects under the custody of the NBI were providing substantial information that may help identify the other suspects and the alleged mastermind.

The original owner, seller, and buyer of the vehicles used in the killing of the governor were also under investigation, Fajardo said.

“Hindi lang po nakatutok ngayon at nagre-rely sa testimonial evidence na ishinare ng apat ng suspek but we are really focusing more dito sa forensic evidence na nakalap ng SITG,” she added.

Fajardo said that authorities were also investigating five security personnel of Degamo who did not report for duty on the day the governor was shot dead.

"Kasama 'yan sa iniimbestigahan natin doon sa nareceive nating information na supposedly nagpo-provide ng security kay Governor Degamo during the day of the incident ay hindi nag-report for duty, kasama 'yan sa napag-usapan kanina," she said.

Degamo was talking to beneficiaries of the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) at his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental on the morning of Saturday, March 4, when armed men barged in and fired shots.

The governor and five others were killed. The death toll rose to nine the day after the attack. Thirteen others were seriously injured while four were treated as outpatients.

Three suspects were arrested during a hot pursuit operation in Bayawan City on March 4. One other suspect died in an encounter with authorities in the province, police said.

Of the three arrested suspects, two were former members of the Philippine Army.

Raid on Teves properties

Two suspects in the killing of Degamo named a certain “Cong Teves” as the person behind the fatal attack against the local official.

Police on Friday raided houses belonging to Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. in the province in search of loose firearms.

The search resulted in the confiscation and recovery of three hand grenades, 10 short firearms, six rifles, 465 assorted live rounds of ammunition, 194 assorted empty shells, and 22 assorted magazines.

"The Teveses were not around during the implementation of the search warrants. However, all arrested persons and confiscated pieces of evidence were brought to CIDG Negros Provincial Field Unit for proper disposition," the PNP said in a statement. 

Asked if the operation was connected with Degamo’s killing, Abalos said on Friday that there were statements about illegal firearms during the investigation into the murder complaints recently filed against Teves for killings committed in 2019.

Teves has denied that he and his brother Henry were involved in the killing of Degamo amid allegations that the incident was politically motivated.

The Teveses are political rivals of the Degamo family. 

Fajardo, meanwhile, said that the PNP is willing to provide security to Teves as soon as he arrives in the Philippines from the United States.

“The PNP is willing to provide security to Congressman Teves if he will request [it],” Fajardo said.

She said they don’t have information yet on when Teves will return to the country. 

Teves has requested an extension of his travel authority, which ended on March 9, House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said Friday. 

A document from the Office of House Secretary General showed that Teves was given permission to go to the US for a personal trip from February 28 to March 9.—LBG/VBL/KG, GMA Integrated News