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DOJ urged to form special panel of prosecutors on Negros killings

The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to create a special panel of prosecutors to handle 20 cases of political killings in the province including that of slain Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

Senator Francis Tolentino made a formal motion to ask the DOJ to form Special Task Force Negros Oriental as the members of the panel noticed that the cases of political killings in the province remain unsolved. His motion was seconded by  Senator Robin Padilla.

“Apparently, pati fiscal niyo doon sa Negros Oriental ay parang takot at nagkabuhol-buhol ang mga kaso. We are not accusing ah…but the revelation coming from our resource persons parang takot lahat. Everyone is takot,” Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, chairman of the committee, said.

Justice Undersecretary Jesse Hermogenes Andres raised the possibility of transferring the cases which are under preliminary investigation to the DOJ proper.

With this, Tolentino asked if the DOJ could assign three Manila-based special prosecutors to handle the 20 cases which were brought before the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs.

“’Yung tatlong tao na lang na ‘yon ang mag-handle ng 20 folders na sinasabi natin kanina para mapadali. Hindi na sila papunta-punta pa sa iba. Maguguluhan and then that special task force will just update this committee  on ongoing developments,” Tolentino said.

Andres said the DOJ already did this in several instances in the past “to avoid a miscarriage of justice” and in places where “there is some tension or pressure” in conducting the preliminary investigation.

However, this will depend on the status of the preliminary investigation whether it is already submitted for resolution or if the presentation of evidence is still ongoing.

Apart  from the wife of slain Negros Oriental governor, family members of other victims of political killings appeared before the Senate to testify against the members of the Teves political clan.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier said that Teves appears to be the main mastermind in the killing of Degamo.

Teves, who is believed to be in Cambodia, has denied the accusations against him and appealed for fairness.

Teves was supposed to participate virtually in the Senate hearing on the killing of Degamo, but the panel decided not to allow him due to lack of jurisdiction and inter-parliamentary courtesy.

The lawmaker refuses to return to the country due to fears for his safety, 

Since his whereabouts remain unidentified, Remulla said the DOJ is eyeing to designate the suspended Negros Oriental solon as terrorist, a move which Teves tagged as “funny.”—LDF, GMA Integrated News