More soldiers sent to ‘suppress lawless violence’ in Negros

ADDITIONAL military forces have been sent to Negros Oriental to help police maintain peace and order in the province following the shooting incident in Pamplona town that claimed the lives of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and eight other persons on March 4, 2023.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. of the Department of National Defense (DND) said Saturday, March 11, that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had ordered them to deploy extra military forces in the island.

He said the President wanted the province’s insurgency problem and the death of Degamo resolved.

Because of this, the DND formed a joint task force composed of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to go after criminals in the area, including private armed groups coddled by some politicians.

“The President has verbally called out the support of the PNP and the AFP to suppress yung impunity and lawless violence dito sa (here in) Negros,” Galvez said.

Marcos also ordered the task force to arrest all the suspects in the governor’s assassination.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino, who attended the press briefing at the Negros Oriental Capitol on Saturday, March 11, 2023, disclosed that there are two brigades on Negros Island.

These are the 302nd Brigade in Tanjay City with three battalions and one in Negros Occidental.

According to Centino, these military units have been given a new role, which is to pursue lawless elements supported by politicians, in addition to dealing with the insurgency problem in the two provinces.

The general clarified that police are pursuing not only the 10 suspects in Degamo’s murder, but also their local contacts.

The deployment of several soldiers in Negros does not mean that the island has been militarized since their intention is for the locals to feel safe and secure and to bring justice for the killings of Degamo and the eight others and the wounding of 17 persons.

“We will give justice to the death of many people including our beloved governor na kailangan talaga na wakasan na yung karahasan. Ang directives ng ating mahal na Presidente kailangang maibigay ang justice ni Governor Degamo soonest possible time,” Galvez announced.

In a press conference on Friday, Galvez had said they had just deployed a 50-man specially trained strong Light Reaction Company, who were involved in the Battle of Marawi, to monitor the remaining suspects, while Centino said an elite unit from Cotabato had been deployed “to suppress all forms of lawless violence and restore peace and order in Negros Island as soon as possible.”

Also on Friday, the Special Investigation Task Group Degamo recovered two more firearms in Sitio Palasanun, Barangay Cansumalig, Bayawan City.

“In the continuing hot pursuit operations, the two firearms recovered were two assault rifles, magazines, bandolier with plate and ammunitions. The firearms are forwarded to Soco (Scene of the Crime Operations) for appropriate forensic examination,” SITG spokesman Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare said.

Last March 5, joint police and military authorities had recovered five assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with ammunition, four bandoliers fully loaded with plates and other items in Barangay Cansumalig, believed to have been used in the assassination of Degamo. (AYB, TPT)