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Murder, frustrated murder raps filed vs. suspects in Degamo killing

Prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) have filed murder and frustrated murder charges against four suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo before the Tanjay City Regional Trial Court.

In a press statement on Tuesday, the DOJ said murder raps were filed against Joric Garido Labrador, Joven Calibjo Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, Osmundo Rojas Rivero, and 12 John Does.

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

“Well, there are already… three counts of murder against the four respondents and then another three counts of illegal possession of firearms have also been filed. So those cases are already in court,” DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano told reporters.

Clavano said there are still "persons of interest" who remain at large.

“As soon as we catch the rest of the people at large, persons of interest that are still at large, they will undergo the necessary inquest or preliminary investigation at mafa-file din ‘yun sa court,” he said.

Meanwhile, Clavano said the DOJ and the Department of the Interior and Local Government made a joint decision to seek the transfer of cases to Manila.

“These cases will be sought to be transferred here [in] Manila. Again, to prevent any bias or prejudgment, if ever there is [one], in a place where political struggle is very evident. We will have to wait for all the cases to be filed in court para ma consolidate natin yun,” he added.

“It wasn’t the request of the Degamos. It was purely from the departments, because we want the integrity of this case to be preserved so we want to put it in a place where we can assure that yung... prosecution of the case is fair and just,” Clavano said.

Gunmen killed Degamo on Saturday while the governor was distributing aid at his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental. The death toll due to the incident has climbed to nine. 

Meanwhile, Clavano said two of the respondents have been transferred to the National Bureau of Investigation, and they are seeking to transfer two more.

“Nung nalaman namin na medyo meron pa silang pwedeng sabihin at pigain pa yung mga statements nila, we decided to put them under the custody of NBI for further interrogation, for further investigation so that we can solidify their statements even more,” he said.

According to Clavano, the respondents made remarks alleging a middleman and a mastermind, but these were "premature."

“There are some statements that lead up already to a middleman and a mastermind but these are statements that are too premature to even put a weight on kasi napakaaga, so we have to really get back to the investigating room,” he said.

“We trust that the NBI will be able to extract as much information as they can para mabuo talaga natin ang kwento,” he added.

Clavano also clarified that the respondents are not yet under the Witness Protection Program (WPP).

The DOJ previously said it was eyeing placing two of the respondents under the WPP.

“Not yet. We are trying to see everybody’s involvement in the killing. As we know there are certain requirements that have to be met before they are put into the WPP. Kaya tinitignan pa natin yung participation ng isa’t isa,” he said.

“And then after that evaluation, we can get back to the drawing board who we can use as state witness and who we have to charge for the murder,” he added. — VBL, GMA Integrated News