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PBBM orders military to help solve killings in Negros after governor’s slay

by Izel Abanilla

PRESIDENT Marcos Jr. has ordered the Department of National Defense to create a joint task force to suppress “lawless violence” in Negros island following the brazen daylight killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.

Marcos also directed officials to give justice to the families and loved ones of all of those slain in the March 4 attack, and to restore normalcy and the confidence of the people in the area, according to Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. 

Galvez said the joint task force would be composed of two brigades and six battalions. It would step up joint operations of the military and the police “and carry out the president’s directive and search warrants,” he said. 

The Department of National Defense has already deployed a 50-member light reaction company to the province to “monitor” the remaining suspects in the attack, he said. This team is similar to the teams sent to Marawi when it was under siege by extremists.

He also said the task force is necessary because there are “emerging cases” in the province that have to be addressed. These refer to previous cases of abuse that are now coming to light, he said. 


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“The president wanted to really completely eliminate the threat from the gun for hire that we saw that had been existing in Negros Oriental for so long a time. We need to put a stop to these killings,” the defense chief said. 

Calling out powers 

Galvez said the President’s “verbal order” for the military to help in Negros is part of the chief executive’s “calling out powers to call on the Armed Forces to help solve the ongoing criminalities in Negros.”

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Andres Centino said the Joint Task Force Negros would be headed by the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, Brig. Gen. Marion Sison. 

Centino also said the six battalions to be tapped for the task force are currently deployed in Negros. 

The AFP would continue to work with other agencies to arrest the remaining suspects in the Degamo attack, he said. 

The task force would also ensure unity of command and unity of efforts to restore peace and order in the area, he said. 

With the recent events, Galvez said the measure was necessary not only to restore peace in the island but also to speed up the arrest and prosecution of suspects still at large, especially now that crucial details about the killing are coming out. 


The police have filed murder raps against four suspects in Degamo’s killing, but more are being hunted.

The Degamos’ political rival, Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., has also been linked to the case. 

The Special Investigation Task Group Degamo, the task force assigned to investigate the killing, earlier said parts of investigation results showed the lawmaker’s alleged participation in the crime. 

Teves is currently in the United States. In a video recently uploaded on Facebook, he denied any involvement in the attack on Degamo.  

Teves’ homes raided 

The police on Friday morning raided the homes of Teves in search of loose firearms.  

According to reports, the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group of the Philippine National Police raided three houses in Bayawan City and a resort in Basay town at around 5 am in compliance with a warrant issued by the court. 

Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos confirmed the news in an interview on DZBB. Abalos said five houses were raided, but not all of them belonged to Teves. 

Motives ‘not yet clear’ 

Teves’ legal counsel, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, also confirmed the incident in a separate interview on Dobol B TV,  but he said he has yet to see a search warrant. 

“Hindi po klaro sa amin kung sino ang hinahanap nila o ano ang hinahanap nila,” Topacio said. 

He said occupants of the homes as well as the lawyers were not allowed to enter while the raid was ongoing. 

Ikinalulungkot ko, nung dumating ‘yung raiding party may naka standby po dun na mga tao, mga occupants as pinalabas po lahat. Pati abugado pinalabas at ayaw papasukin,”

Ferdinand Topacio

But he also said the Teves camp already expected the incident as it had  been informed months ago that authorities would conduct a raid in the houses. 

Teves’ family has not issued any statement so far about the raid.  

Spurious documents 

Abalos said the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) is currently conducting an annual review of all gun licenses and saw that Teves’ documents were “spurious.” 

He said those with such documents should not be allowed to have firearms. 

“May requirement ka, pagkatapos hindi pala totoo ‘yung mga requirement mo, automatic null and void walang bisa ‘yan,” he said. 

He also questioned the lawmaker’s earlier surrender of his guns, saying it came late considering that his licenses for those have long been canceled. 

Dapat kung alam mong congressman ka pa, dapat matagal mo na ginawa ‘yan, hindi ba?”

Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos

Sobriety call 

Meanwhile, Topacio called for “sobriety” in leveling allegations against his client. 

“We call on all concerned to observe sobriety in their pronouncements regarding the allegations against Rep. Arni Teves in the face of certain accusations against him in the killing of Governor Roel Degamo and several other persons,” the lawyer said in a statement. 

“The killing has already been denounced strongly by Rep. Teves, who has denied involvement therein. It will not serve the ends of justice any by publicly obfuscating the issues prematurely before a thorough investigation in accordance with procedures provided for by law,” he added. 

Also read:

Abalos orders replacement of entire Negros Oriental police force 

Murder raps filed vs 3 suspects in Degamo slay; Abalos tells assailants to surrender

Negros Oriental Gov, five others killed in attack 



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