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PNP to probe if Degamo's police security were deliberately absent the day he was shot

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will look into whether the police security detail of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo were deliberately absent on the day he was shot, an official said on Monday.

This was after Speaker Martin Romualdez on Sunday called for a House inquiry into the alleged failure of some of the police escorts of Degamo to report for duty on March 4, the day he was killed.

"Patuloy 'yung ginagawa nating investigation sa initial information na ating natanggap na apat 'yung naka-detail kay Governor Degamo na security detail subalit palitan sila, relyebohan," PNP spokesperson Police Colonel Jean Fajardo said in an interview on Unang Balita.

(We are continuing our investigation into the initial information we received that there were four [police officers] who were part of the security detail of Governor Degamo but they took turns [being on duty].)

"Tinitingnan natin kung talagang totoong may deliberate na umabsent doon sa kanyang security detail at the time of the incident," she added.

(We are checking if it is really true that some of them were deliberately absent at the time of the incident.)

“Governor Degamo had reported to the police about the threats to his life, so it stands to reason that his security detail should have implemented stricter measures to ensure his safety. That’s why it’s highly suspicious why these police escorts were missing on the day he was killed,” Romualdez said.

“It appears that the perpetrators were aware of the fact that Governor Degamo has practically no protection so they could easily accomplish their mission to assassinate him,” he added.

Fajardo said so far four suspects in the killing are under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.

"'Yung apat po sa kanila ay nag-execute na po ng extrajudicial confession at nagbigay ng very vital at significant revelation with respect to the identity of the possible alleged mastermind behind this incident," she said.

(The four suspects executed extrajudicial confession and gave very vital and significant revelation with respect to the identity of the possible alleged mastermind behind this incident.)

Fajardo said authorities are still looking for 12 more suspects.

"We are still accounting for at least 12 suspects base sa revelations ng mga nahuli pong suspects (based on the revelations of the arrested suspects)," she said.

Police Regional Office 7 spokesperson Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare on Saturday said four to  five more suspects who may have directly participated in the shooting incident are still being hunted, and authorities believe they are still in Negros Oriental.

Degamo was talking to beneficiaries of the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) program 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 went up to nine the following day. Thirteen others were seriously injured while four were treated as outpatients. 

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

Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr. however denied that he and his brother Henry were involved in the killing of Degamo amid allegations that the incident was politically motivated.

Fajardo said as of Monday, the Special Investigation Task Group has not had communication yet with the camp of Teves.

However, she said the PNP is open to any statement Teves would like to make.

"Kagaya ng sinabi ng ating SILG [Secretary of the Interior and Local Government] at pati na rin ng Chief PNP, open po tayo sa kung anong gusto ipahayag ni Congressman Teves," Fajardo said.

(Like what our SILG and our Chief PNP said, we are open to whatever statement Congressman Teves would give.)

"PNP is more than willing to provide him security kung kinakailangan po. At pagdating niya ay handa ang PNP na bigyan siya ng seguridad," she added.

(PNP is more than willing to provide him security if needed. And once he arrives [in the country, the PNP is ready to give him security.)

Personal trip

Teves is currently on a personal trip to Europe and Asia, based on a travel authority. He requested for the travel authority, which ended on March 9, to be extended to April 9.

Fajardo clarified that in the absence of a warrant of arrest against Teves, the PNP has no basis to arrest him.

"For now po ang instruction we will be providing the necessary security once he arrives dito sa ating bansa (here in our country)," she added.

Fajardo added that the revelation of the suspects as well as forensic evidence gathered proved very vital in identifying the possible mastermind of the crime.

"Very vital po yung mga inihayag na mga kaalaman ng mga suspek na nasa kustodiya dahil ito ay maaari itong makapagturo sa possible mastermind sa kasong ito. But I want to reiterate also na hindi lang po tayo nagbabase sa testimonial revelation nitong mga suspek dahil even 'yung mga forensic evidence will lead us, particularly doon sa isang nakuha na assault rifle noong March 5 ay nagtugma sa baril na pinanggamit sa pagpatay kay Governor Degamo," she said.

(The revelations given by the suspects under custody were very vital because these could lead us to the possible mastermind in this case. But I want to reiterate also that we are not just basing it on the testimonial revelation of the suspects. Even the forensic evidence will lead us, particularly the assault rifle recovered on March 5 which matched the firearm used to kill Governor Degamo.)

Authorities have recovered from the suspects the assault rifle that was used to assassinate Degamo, the PNP said Saturday.

Police on Friday raided houses belonging to Teves in Negros Oriental in search of loose firearms. 

Still normal

Meanwhile, the PNP said the daily activities and businesses in Negros Island remained normal despite the additional security in place.

"Base po sa huling ulat sa atin ng provincial director, kahapon lang ay nagbigay po siya ng overall assessment at sinasabi po na normal ang pamumuhay ng mga tao sa Negros," PNP public information office acting chief Police Colonel Redrico Maranan told Dobol B TV.

(Based on the latest report from the provincial director who gave an overall assessment just yesterday, he said the daily life of the residents in Negros is normal.)

"Tuloy-tuloy ang mga negosyo. Patuloy po nagagawa ng ating mga kababayan doon ang kanilang normal na gawain," he added.

(Businesses keep operating. The residents can still do their normal activities.) —KG/RSJ, GMA Integrated News