MANILA (UPDATED) – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the creation of joint and special task forces that would have a holistic government response following the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.
In a press conference Saturday, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Police Col. Jean Fajardo said “Special Task Force Degamo” will be led by Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla as the co-chairperson.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Menardo de Lemos have also been designated task force commanders, she said.
Fajardo clarified that the Special Investigation Task Group Degamo will not be dissolved but would instead focus on other areas.
“Itong special investigation task force, ang intention nito ay to harmonize ang lahat ng efforts ng iba’t ibang ahensya,” the police official said.
“On the side of PNP, tayo ay nakatutok kasama ang AFP sa pag-conduct ng hot pursuit operation at paglalagay ng roadblocks at checkpoints para hanapin pa ang mga natitirang suspects,” she added.
The special task force’s first order of business earlier was to meet regarding their roles, but Fajardo declined to provide specifics.
‘JOINT TASK FORCE NEGROS’
In another press conference in Dumaguete City Saturday, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. also announced the creation of Joint Task Force Negros “to step up the joint law enforcement operations” of the military and police in Negros Island.
Galvez said the task force would focus on both Negros Oriental and Occidental.
“The instruction of the President to me is very clear. One, to get all the 10 suspects [in Degamo’s assassination], and two, to dismantle all tentacles of violence in Negros,” he said.
Galvez said he has tapped the AFP to organize 2 brigades and 6 battalions to work with the PNP and “serve warrants for the crimes relating to the death” of Gov. Degamo.
The Defense Secretary also said that aside from the March 4 bloodbath that killed Degamo and 8 others, the new task force would also “dig deeper” on previous killing incidents in Negros.
“There is always time for reckoning. And this day is that time,” Galvez said.
He also clarified that Negros Oriental will not be placed under a state of emergency.
The AFP Visayas Command (VISCOM) also confirmed that additional troops were deployed to Negros "to suppress lawless violence."
With the deployment of these troops, VISCOM said soldiers will now be seen with police manning checkpoints in different parts of the island to "enforce the full might of the law."
“Our troops are highly motivated to perform these tasks as directed by our Commander-In-Chief. Rest assured that justice will be served swiftly and that peace and order will be restored for all our people in the island," VISCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo said.
Degamo’s widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, thanked Galvez and national government agencies for their swift response on her husband’s slay.
“Unmasking the culprit, unmasking the mastermind, and putting them behind bars will bring peace once again to this once peaceful province of ours,” she said.
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