MANILA — The leader of the private armed group allegedly behind the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo is believed to be a former member of the Philippine Army, the military said Monday.
Four gunmen earlier arrested by authorities were also former soldiers.
"Based on the description, based on the training, there is reason for us to believe that he is a former member of the Philippine Army," Maj. Cenon Pancito III, acting spokesperson of Joint Task Force Negros, said of the group's leader.
Pancito said 10 people stormed the governor's house in Pamplona town, of which 5 were arrested, 1 died and 4 others remained at-large.
But he noted "it is clear also that these 10 are not just operating on their own."
"They have tentacles of violence. They have support systems that we also have to look into," Pancito told ANC's "Headstart"..
Asked who was the mastermind of the incident, he said their investigation "points to someone big, to someone powerful".
"That's why if we can get into the one who led the 10-man team that stormed the house of Gov. Degamo, I think there will be a clear picture of our hypothesis to the situation," he said.
A 50-man Light Reaction Company, an elite counter terrorist unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has been deployed to Negros island to augment state forces following Degamo's murder.
The brazen gun attack on March 4 also killed 8 other people and wounded 16 more.
Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, widow of slain governor, is convinced her husband's death was politically motivated.
The mayor noted the attack came just 2 weeks after the Supreme Court upheld Gov. Degamo's win over rival Pryde Henry Teves in 2022.
Teves' brother, Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves, earlier said their clan had nothing to do with the killing.
Mayor Degamo said the violence could have been prevented if only authorities listened to their appeal to address rising lawlessness in the province.
"It was the frustration of the elections that led them to do that. If you have seen their guns and ammunitions, baka talo pa ang military," the mayor has told ABS-CBN News.