Governor dead, 5 others killed in Philippine attack

Jeoffrey Maitem
Davao, Philippines
Governor dead, 5 others killed in Philippine attack Police man a checkpoint on the border of Tanjay City and Pamplona town in the Philippine province of Negros Oriental, hours after the provincial governor Roel Degamo and five others were killed by unknown gunmen, March 4, 2023.
Ferdinand Edralin /AFP

Gunmen in the central Philippines shot and killed a governor and five other civilians in an attack at his official home on Saturday, officials said.

Janice Degamo, the mayor of central Pamplona town, said her husband, Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, was having a meeting with local residents at their home around 9:36 a.m., when a group of armed men clad in full battle gear arrived and told their guard they wanted to see the governor.  

After they were allowed to enter, the perpetrators opened fire on people inside the compound, leaving the governor and scores of civilians wounded. Degamo was rushed to the hospital but passed away hours later due to wounds he sustained. 

“The governor does not deserve that kind of death. There were five others who died with him. They were there to ask for help,” Janice Degamo said in a Facebook video. 

“Give the governor the justice he deserves.” 

In Manila, President Ferdinand  Marcos Jr. condemned the attack and vowed justice for the killing of the governor. 

“My government will not rest until we have brought the perpetrators of this dastardly and heinous crime to justice,” Marcos said in a statement. “I am warning all those involved in this killing: You can run but you cannot hide. We will find you. If you surrender now, it will be your best option.” 

“We have received much information and now have a clear direction on how to proceed to bring to justice those behind this killing,” he added.

Hours later, police announced they had arrested three suspects, two of them former army soldiers, in connection with the attack. 

Interior and Local Government secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. also condemned the “senseless assassination” of Degamo, saying he had given a directive to police to conduct hot pursuit operations to immediately apprehend the suspects.

“Expect that we will not stop until this case is resolved as well as the other ambush incidents that happened in the past few days,” he said in a statement. 

Degamo’s killing was the third incident in a series of high-profile attacks against local government officials in the country since last month. 

On Feb.17, four policemen were killed and three other people, including a provincial governor, were wounded in a roadside ambush in the volatile southern Philippines. 

Police officers were escorting a convoy transporting Gov. Mamintal Adiong when unidentified gunmen attacked them on a highway near Maguing town in Lanao del Sur province. A police operation resulted in the death of one of the suspects.

Also last month, gunmen disguised as police officers waylaid a van of Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda of Aparri town in Nueva Vizcaya province, in the northern Philippines, killing him and five companions.

In the Philippines, it is not unusual for families to settle differences through clan wars or “rido.” Hostilities can last for decades until a peace pact is signed by the protagonists, usually through mediation by religious leaders along with a cash payment. 

Political rivalries, ancestral land claims, disputes on local fiefdoms, as well as election-related feuds often spur clan wars. Mindanao, the country’s mineral-rich southern third, has been locked in a cycle of such violence for years.


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