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More troops to be deployed vs ‘lawless violence’ in Negros Island —DND, AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will deploy more military personnel in Negros Island to address lawless violence and restore peace following the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Friday.

In a press conference, Galvez said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday night directed him to suppress criminal activities and restore normalcy in the island.

“The President also issued verbal orders to create a joint task force composed of two brigades and six battalions to step up to the joint AFP-PNP operations and carry out the President's directive and search warrants,” he said.

“Also we have just deployed a 50-man specially-trained strong Light Reaction Company—kung alam nyo po yung Light Reaction Company they were involved in the Battle of Marawi—from the deployment of the AFP to monitor the remaining suspects,” he added.

Galvez said the soldiers will also help the police cordon off the area to prevent the suspects from leaving the island.

He added that the task force is needed because of some “emerging cases” in the area.

Joint Task Force Negros

AFP chief General Andres Centino said the "Joint Task Force Negros" is composed of AFP units in the area with additional personnel from outside Negros.

“The President has ordered the creation of a joint task force in order to suppress all forms of lawless violence and restore peace and order in Negros Island as soon as possible... As mentioned earlier, we have already deployed an elite unit coming from Cotabato and now they are now in Negros to augment our forces there,” he said.

Brigadier General Marion Sison, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, is the head of the task force, according to Centino.

Centino said authorities are looking after another group involved in the entry to the residence of Degamo during the attack.

“Nakikita natin it is not only that group na involved doon sa pagpasok sa residence ni Governor. Meron ding, nalaman natin, na may grupo din na kasama din doon na we are looking after. So that's why we cannot just be complacent,” he said.

(We saw that it was not only the group that entered the governor’s residence. We are also looking after another group that is also part of that group. That's why we cannot be complacent.)

Gun Ban

Meanwhile, the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office on Friday announced the implementation of a gun ban in the province after the killing of Governor Roel Degamo.

“All permit to carry firearm outside residence (PTCFOR) are hereby suspended in negros oriental until further notice,” it said in a Facebook post.

“Only the member of the PNP, AFP, and other law enforcement agencies (LEAs) who are performing official duties and in agency-prescribed uniforms will be allowed to carry firearms,” it added.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is also looking into more than 10 reports of killings in Negros Oriental, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Friday.

Remulla, who visited the wake of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo on Wednesday, previously said officials were seeing a “pattern of impunity” in the province.

“I think that a lot of people are coming out with information about past cases, but we have to process them properly. We have to look at the evidence. We have to look at the statements. But we’ll look at them one by one,” Remulla said.

“Kasi ano to eh, ito yung mga reklamong dumating sa amin nung pumunta kami sa wake (We received the complaints when we went to the wake). And they informed us about what was happening in Negros Oriental, in Bayawan City, in Dumaguete, and other areas,” he added.

Degamo and five others were killed while 13 others were injured in the March 4 attack which was done while the governor was distributing aid to his constituents at his residence in Pamplona town. The death toll increased to nine on Sunday.

Murder and frustrated murder charges have been filed against four suspects identified as Joric Garido Labrador, Joven Calibjo Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, Osmundo Rojas Rivero, and 12 John Does before the Tanjay City Regional Trial Court.

Two of the suspects pointed to a certain “Cong Teves” as the one who allegedly ordered the hit on Degamo.

Charges of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives were also filed against three individuals before the Bayawan City Regional Trial Court. —VAL, GMA Integrated News