DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, March 13 (PIA) -- The Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have organized a Joint Task Group (JTG) to intensify the manhunt against the remaining suspects of the Pamplona shooting incident.
DND Sec. Carlito Galvez and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino made the announcement in a press conference here over the weekend.
Both officials said the move is in line with Pres. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr.’s directive to serve justice for the victims of the shooting incident, including the late Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, and to restore peace in the province.
“The President is very firm in his guidance; to solve the case as soon as possible and bring these lawless elements to justice as the President had said they can run but they cannot hide. This is the day of reckoning,” Galvez said.
“Upon the order of the President, nag-create ta og usa ka task force diin gi direktahan nato ang mga unit within the Negros island (we have created a task force and directed our units within Negros Island) to support, coordinate, and work together with the other agencies of government, and the PNP,” Centino said.
Soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade (IB) and 303rd IB based in Negros Island and their subordinate battalions have been re-deployed or transferred in strategic areas in the province to assist the PNP in their law enforcement operations to capture the remaining suspects who are still large.
“We are going after the suspects and they are still on the run. It is important that we deploy the forces kung saan sila mag-iikot at magtatakbo. We know hindi lang itong sampu ang involved. There are also support elements na tumutulong sa kanilang pagtatago at pagtatakbo (It is important that we deploy forces in places where suspects can potentially escape. We know that it’s not only 10 people involved here and there are also support elements that could aid them in their hiding or escape),” Gen. Centino said.
Galvez added that Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Benhur Abalos also assured the JTF of augmentation of security forces from the regional forces and the Special Action Force (SAF) of the country’s law enforcement and security troops.
A special intelligence group will also be created as part of their combined efforts to apprehend the suspects.
“Gusto nating i-employ ang (We want to employ the) might of the government to portray to the people that we are here and we are serious that this will be the time for reckoning. We will give justice to the death of many people including the death of many people including our beloved governor,” Galvez said.
Centino said the public could expect soldiers to aid the police in conducting checkpoints and serving warrants to the suspects of the case.
On March 4, a shooting incident in Pamplona town resulted to the deaths of nine individuals including the late Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.
Thirteen other persons were seriously injured after the incident.
Five hours later, three suspects were arrested by the joint operatives of the police and military, which immediately launchied a hot pursuit operation.
As of this writing, authorities have apprehended five suspects.
Four were captured alive and were brought to Manila for detaining while one died in an encounter with the authorities during the conduct of hot pursuit operations.
Authorities also recovered several firearms believed to be used in the attack during its hot pursuit operations.
Five suspects are still at large.
Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, widow of the late governor, expressed her appreciation to the DND, AFP, and PNP for its enhanced operations to find the other culprits and unmask the mastermind of the killing.
“Nakikita po naming (we are seeing that) the response of national government is swift and it is giving us a ray of hope that one day soon we will be able to see justice,” the mayor said. (RAL/PIA7 Negros Oriental)