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Marcos orders formation of panel of prosecutors for Negros Oriental killings

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the formation of a special panel of prosecutors to look into the killings in Negros Oriental, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Tuesday.

Remulla issued the remark in an ambush interview following a meeting with Marcos regarding the situation in the province.

“We are now constituting a panel of prosecutors to handle the Negros Oriental cases and that’s the instruction of the president to make sure that a panel that skilled— at this level of skill is already there to evaluate the cases to that no stones will be left unturned,” he said.

Remulla had said that officials noticed a "pattern of impunity" in Negros Oriental after visiting the wake of slain Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

According to Remulla, Marcos wants the situation in Negros “stabilized and resolved.”

“So far we have arrived at more persons of interest in the crimes committed. We also discussed crimes that will be charged,” Remulla said.

He added that they are looking to file nine murder charges, 15 frustrated murder charges, and 3 attempted murder charges at least against the individuals responsible.

Last week, police raided houses belonging to Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr. in search for loose firearms. The raid took place after two arrested suspects claimed that a "Cong Teves" ordered the hit on Degamo. 

“And of course, we had a briefing about some of the raids conducted and how they proceeded and the weaknesses and strengths of the cases,” the Justice secretary said.

“Because that’s what we do. We have to assess every move that we make. We have to make sure that we follow the law every step of the way,” he added.

Teves' lawyer, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, clarified that no case has been filed against his client in relation to the Degamo killing. The lawmaker, however, is facing a complaint in relation to 2019 killings of which he is accused as the mastermind. 

Teves, meanwhile, has yet to return to the country due to security concerns according, to House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Tuesday. 

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.

The Philippine Army has 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. —VAL, GMA Integrated News.