The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) condemns the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo on 4 March 2023 by armed men equipped with military gear in an attack that left eight others dead and 17 people injured.
Police reports reveal that three of Governor Degamo’s suspected killers were dishonorably discharged from the Philippine Army; the fourth was a taxi driver; and the fifth unidentified suspect was killed during hot pursuit operations. Four of the identified suspects are now in police custody and are facing murder charges at the Bayawan City Regional Trial Court. The Department of Justice, however, say that there are still persons of interest who remain at large.
As the country’s independent national human rights institution, CHR has launched a motu proprio investigation on the incident, parallel to the efforts of the Philippine National Police (PNP). CHR acknowledges the swift response of law enforcement authorities in apprehending these perpetrators and their continuing efforts to locate the mastermind and other accomplices in this brazen act of violence.
Governor Degamo’s case is the latest in the spate of violence and killings directed toward local government officials over the past months. These include:
• The slaying of San Carlos Barangay Captain Vivencio Palo in Lipa, Batangas on 26 February ;• the killing of Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda and his five aides on 19 February 2023 ;• the attempt on the life of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. on 17 February 2023 ;• the slaying of Sto. Domingo Barangay Chairman Richard Biraquit in Piat, Cagayan on 23 January 2023 ;• the killing of former Dipaculao, Aurora Vice Mayor, Narciso Amansec, who was ambushed on Monday, 3 October 2022 ; and• the killing of Danilo Amat, former vice mayor of Dolores, Quezon on 22 July 2022.
• the ambush of Haviv Macabangen, Commission on Elections officer of Sultan Sa Barongis Municipality, Maguindanao Del Sur on 13 February ;
• the attempt on the life of Integrated Bar of the Philippines Abra Chapter President Hamilcar Bigornia on 29 January ; and
• the discovery of dismembered body parts with a note threatening former drug crime offenders on 26 January in Bacolod City. These reoccurring acts of arbitrary deprivation of life need to be addressed and vehemently condemned to assure all Filipinos that the government and its law enforcement agencies are committed to protecting its citizens’ human rights. On that regard, CHR welcomes the Senate’s expression of grave concern and call for action in a Resolution urging law enforcement agencies “to undertake the necessary steps in ensuring the safety of all to address the rampant violence and killings, including the prompt, impartial, and efficient investigation, and prosecution of cases.”
This perpetuating culture of violence must be cut short before it becomes normalized. As duty bearers, we cannot allow citizens to be desensitized to attacks on people participating in political spheres or merely interacting in peace.
In fulfillment of our mandate to promote and protect the right to life, liberty, and security, CHR will closely cooperate with government agencies to promote fairness, transparency, and impartiality in these cases’ investigations and prosecution in pursuit of human dignity and justice for all. ###
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