A suspect in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo died in an encounter with state forces in the said province on Saturday, and the death toll in the shooting incident at the official's residence has increased to nine, police said Sunday.
"May isang dead na suspect during an encounter with joint elements of the PNP, AFP and Special Action Force," Philippine National Police Region 7 spokesperson Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.
(There is one suspect who died during an encounter with joint elements of the [Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Special Action Force].)
Pelare said the three other suspects who were arrested during a hot pursuit operation in Bayawan City on Saturday underwent custodial debriefing and revealed relevant information.
"May na-recover na firearms upon their revelation," he said.
Among the firearms recovered were four assault rifles, the police official said.
Police will check if the firearms are registered.
LOOK: Mga narekober na armas na ginamit umano sa pagpatay kay Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo at walong iba pa.— DZBB Super Radyo (@dzbb) March 5, 2023
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The Philippine Army earlier confirmed that two of the arrested suspects are former soldiers.
Pelare said they were dishonorably discharged from service due to absence without leave and drug cases.
"May AWOL, may kasong illegal drugs 'yung iba. That is probably why they engaged in these activities," he said.
"The hot pursuit team composed of the PNP, AFP and SAF are still on the ground conducting hot pursuit operations to ensure 'yung remaining suspects will be arrested," Pelare said.
Degamo and five others were killed when armed men fired shots while the official was distributing aid at his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental on Saturday morning. The death toll increased to nine as of Sunday.
"We have nine dead, 13 seriously injured, and four outpatients," Pelare said, referring to the shooting incident at the governor's home.
Initial investigation revealed that six suspects wearing pixelized uniforms and carrying long firearms shot Degamo, who was entertaining beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) program at his residence in Barangay San Isidro.
The incident occurred around 9:50 a.m., the PNP said.
One of the members of Degamo's security detail was able to retaliate and hit at least one of the gunmen, Pelare said on Sunday.
"May naka-retaliate na isa sa mga security detail niya causing injury to the suspect. May na-injure din sa mga suspects," he said, adding that there was blood in the gunmen's vehicle.
(There was one member of his security detail who was able to retaliate, causing injury to the suspect. The suspects had injuries.)
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Saturday denounced the killing of Degamo.
"My government will not rest until we have brought the perpetrators of this dastardly and heinous crime to justice," he said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Saturday ordered the PNP to conduct manhunt operations for the killers of Degamo.
Pelare said all possible angles regarding the shooting will be looked into.
"There is political rivalry as recorded in the latest election but nothing is definite right now... Right now we are focusing on the arrested persons and hot pursuit operations," he added.
The PNP on Sunday said an organized criminal group is behind the slay plot.
Interviewed on Super Radyo dzBB, PNP Public Information Office chief Police Colonel Red Maranan explained that the suspects were not just ordinary criminals.
“Meron itong grupo…Ang tawag natin dito sa mga ‘to ay organized crime groups sapagkat hindi naman ito mga ordinaryong kriminal kasi may mga sasakyan sila, matataas na kalibre ng baril, nakakakuha sila ng mga uniporme ng law enforcement agencies. So, isa talaga itong organisadong criminal groups,” he said.
(We call these organized crime groups because they are not ordinary criminals. They have cars and high-caliber guns, and they were able to get uniforms of law enforcement agencies. This is really an organized criminal group.) —KG, GMA Integrated News