THE SUPREME Court (SC) has transferred the murder cases related to the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel R. Degamo to a Manila regional trial court from the victim’s home province following a request from the Justice secretary.
In a statement on Tuesday, the tribunal said it agreed with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla’s position that it is necessary to have a “neutral venue where the trial can be conducted fairly and impartially.”
Mr. Remulla said in his request that the media attention the case has attracted may create a “hostile” environment for those involved.
“Given that three of the victims are government officials and politicians, the political complexion surrounding the cases may also lead to intimidation and harassment of the respondents, the private complainants, and their witnesses,” the court quoted the Justice chief.
The tribunal said other cases related to the murder that will be filed before courts in Negros Oriental may also be transferred to the Manila regional trial court.
Mr. Degamo and eight others, including two village leaders, were killed while 15 others were wounded when armed men opened fire in his residential compound, where cash aid was being distributed under a social service program on March 4.
National police chief Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr. on Monday said authorities would continue its joint checkpoints to ensure the security of Negros Oriental amid the ongoing manhunt for more suspects.
Four suspects were arrested last week, two of whom tagged a Negros Oriental representative as the mastermind behind the governor’s killing.
Interior Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. said a total of 17 cases have been filed related to Mr. Degamo’s murder, adding 13 more will likely be filed in the coming days.
“It’s hard to give a timeframe for when we can solve this case, but we already have leads,” he told a news briefing in Filipino. — John Victor D. Ordoñez