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Supreme Court OKs transfer of Degamo cases to Manila RTC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday announced that it has granted the request to transfer the cases filed in connection with the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo to the Manila Regional Trial Court.

In a tweet, the High Court said the request was made by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.

Degamo and five others were killed in the shooting incident on March 4. The death toll went up to nine the following day, while 13 others were seriously injured due to the attack.

Justice prosecutors filed murder and frustrated murder charges against accused Joric Garido Labrador, Joven Calibjo Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, Osmundo Rojas Rivero, and 12 John Does before the Tanjay City Regional Trial Court.

Meanwhile, charges of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives were filed against three individuals before the Bayawan City Regional Trial Court.

Justice spokesperson Mico Clavano previously said the transfer is “to prevent any bias or prejudgment, if ever there is [one], in a place where political struggle is very evident.” 

In an ambush interview, Remulla said it is better for the cases to be heard in a “safer venue.”

“It’s better that the cases are heard in a safer venue, in a place where people may be able to speak freely because many of them are afraid to speak in a climate of fear that may be present in a setting,” he said.

Remulla earlier said that officials discovered a “pattern of impunity” in the province following a visit to Degamo’s wake.

The Philippine Army has also deployed more soldiers to Negros Oriental following the murder to secure parts of the province as the hunt continues for the killers.

The Philippine National Police, meanwhile, said it will look into whether the police security detail of Degamo was deliberately absent on the day he was shot. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News