Officials thank Marcos Jr. for task force to maintain peace in Negros

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 05 2023 04:12 PM | Updated as of Apr 05 2023 04:16 PM

 The Negros Oriental Capitol in Dumaguete, the seat of the province's local government. Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News/file
The Negros Oriental Capitol in Dumaguete, the seat of the province's local government. Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News/file

DUMAGUETE CITY — Negros Oriental Governor Carlo Jorge Joan "Guido" Reyes and several other local officials on Wednesday thanked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for creating a joint special task force aimed to maintain peace and order in Negros Island.

In a text message to ABS-CBN News, Reyes said he "finds comfort" in Administrative Order No. 6, which he described as a "welcome development" following the assassination of his ally and predecessor, Roel Degamo. 

"This demonstrates the swift and decisive capability of our national government and the sincerity of our President and his Department Secretaries when they vowed not to rest until justice is served," Reyes said.

"It is also a fitting tribute to the late governor that a task force assigned with such an all-important mission is named after him," he added. 

Reyes ran as the province's vice governor under Degamo's ticket in the May 2022 polls and won. He was catapulted to the gubernatorial post following Degamo's murder on Mar. 4.

Degamo's widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, said the formation of a task force named after her husband was a long-term solution to Negros Oriental's peace and order situation.

"Coming up with this team composed of DILG, DOJ, NBI, AFP, and the DSWD, nakikita natin na hindi short-term lang iyong pinaplano ng national government na peace and order for Negros Oriental," she told ABS-CBN News.

(We can see that the national government's plans for Negros Oriental's peace and order situation is not only for the short term.)

She thanked Marcos for "walking the extra mile" to restore "true peace and order" in the province.

Vice Governor Manuel "Chaco" Sagarbarria, for his part, said that Marcos is still "on top of the situation" in Negros by approving the formation of Special Task Force Degamo.

"It shows that he has compassion for Negros and I will continue to support that, especially when it comes to [the welfare of] the people which for me is the most important," he said. 

But the Negros Oriental chapter of progressive group Kabataan Para sa Kabataan (KPK) slammed Marcos' order as "futile," if it does not address peace and order violations allegedly committed by authorities.

"How can this new Special Task Force Degamo be different from the ones previously implemented in solving lawless violence and preserving peace when those clearly only exacerbated human rights violations in Negros?" KPK said in a statement.

"While we wholeheartedly agree that the culture of impunity must be stopped, we firmly stand in our call that for there to be genuine peace in Negros, we must be fervent in our pursuit of justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations on the island," the group said.

On Monday, Marcos signed Administrative Order No. 6 approving Special Task Force Degamo, which will be led by Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla as 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 been designated task force commanders.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is also ordered to "extend emergency relief assistance to the families of the victims, while the Department of Health (DOH) shall provide psychological rehabilitation to affected individuals."


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