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4 to 5 more suspects in Degamo shooting still being hunted —police

Four to  five more suspects who may have directly participated in the shooting incident that killed Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo are still the subject of a manhunt, a police official said on Saturday.

"The actual participants, 'yung sumali talaga sa shooting incident, nasa four to five na lang ang hinahanap. But may mga other suspects po who participated by inducement, 'yung mga facilitators at mastermind and some other suspects po," Police Regional Office 7 spokesperson Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare said in an interview on Dobol B TV.

(Of the actual participants, those who really participated in the shooting incident, only four or five more [suspects] are being hunted. But there are other suspects who participated by inducement — the facilitators and mastermind and some other suspects.)

Pelare said they believe the four to five suspects in the shooting incident are still in Negros Oriental.

"'Yung mga nag-participate sa shooting incident, we believe na nandito pa po because immediately after the incident we were able to block the exit points. That is why as you can remember, 66 hours after the incident, nahuli na namin ang first four suspects," he said.

(We believe those who participated in the shooting incident are still here [in the province] because immediately after the incident we were able to block the exit points. That is why as you can remember, 66 hours after the incident, we were able to arrest the first four suspects.)

The police official thus urged residents to contact authorities if they notice any suspicious individuals in their community.

"We believe nandito pa that is why our appeal to the community is kung may mga makita sila o may mapansin diyan sa kanila na suspicious individuals to report it to the nearest police station," Pelare said.

(We believe the suspects are still here that is why our appeal to the community is for them to report to the nearest police station if they notice suspicious individuals around.)

Pelare said police and military presence has been maximized in the province following the shooting incident.

A gun ban has also been implemented and checkpoints and blockades have been put up.

"'Yung checkpoints natin at saka blockades are in place, 24/7... Nandito pa sila. Increased 'yung police and military presence natin because we are still conducting manhunt operations. We will maintain the same level of security until we assess na okay na po, puwede nang i-lift (until we assess that it is already okay to lift)," Pelare said.

(The checkpoints and blockades are in place 24/7. They are still there.)

Degamo was talking to beneficiaries of the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) program at his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental on the morning of Saturday, March 4, when armed men barged in and fired shots.

The governor and five others were killed. The death toll went up to nine the following day. Thirteen others were seriously injured while four were treated as outpatients.

Three suspects were arrested during a hot pursuit operation in Bayawan City on March 4. One other suspect died in an encounter with authorities in the province, police said. Of the three arrested suspects, two were former members of the Philippine Army.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Thursday that three to four people may have been behind the killing of Degamo.

Pelare said the case is already with the Department of Justice and the Special Investigation Task Group is just looking for some more pieces of evidence.

"May mga konti na lang kaming mga hinahanap na pieces of evidence that will bolster the cases we have filed to make sure that it can withstand court trial and bring suspects to conviction," he said.

Two suspects in the killing of Degamo named a certain “Cong Teves” as the person behind the fatal attack against the local official.

Police on Friday raided houses belonging to Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. in the province in search of loose firearms.

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the confiscated firearms had no legal documents.

Pelare said authorities are just narrowing down the possible motives in the slay of Degamo.

"We are narrowing down to a few motives. Chine-check natin. Since the start of the investigation, we have identified possible motives... Nasa final stretch of our investigation tayo. We have already acquired substantial information regarding what really happened before, during and after the incident. We also have acquired substantial information on the personalities involved," he said.

Negros Oriental Representative Arnie Teves has denied that he and his brother Henry were involved in the killing of Degamo amid allegations that the incident over the weekend was politically motivated. —KG, GMA Integrated News