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VACC balks over ‘isolated case’ excuse by police

‘Ex-soldiers’ killed Negros Oriental governor

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THE Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to stop describing incidence of violent crimes as ‘isolated incidents’ saying the excuse does not help solve the problem.

“These incidents are not isolated. It is happening all over the country,” VACC president Arsenio ‘Boy’ Evangelista, pointed out.

Evangelista made the statement in the backdrop of the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo last March 4, 2023 inside the compound of his house in Bgy. San Isidro, town of Pamplona. Eight others became casualties of the attack and 17 others injured.

Prior to this, Evangelista noted that the killing of Degamo was just part of a series of violent attacks against elected local government officials in a span of just two weeks.

Last February 22, 2023, Mayor Ohto Montawal of Datu Montawal town, Maguindanao, was wounded in an ambush staged by yet to be arrested gunmen in Pasay City.

Three days earlier, February 19, Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda and 5 of his companions were killed in an ambush in Bagabag, Nueva Viscaya.

And two days before this, on February 17, Lanao del Sur Governor Maminal Alonto Adiong Jr., miraculously survived an ambush in Kalilangan, Bukidnon but resulted to the death of his 4 security escorts.

All of these, Evangelista, noted, were brushed aside by the PNP as “isolated incidents.”

“What the PNP should be doing is to ‘calm’ the citizens…kapag sinabi ninyo (PNP) na ‘isolated’ (incident) parang nasa defensive (agad) kayo…”

What is needed, he added, is the “acceptance” of an existing problem. “‘Pag hindi mo tinatanggap na may problema, I think you are part of the problem also,” Evangelista pointed out.

P10 million ‘hit-job’ by ‘mysterious mastermind’

Meanwhile, with a P10 million ‘price tag’ to eliminate the governor, the actual gunmen turned out to be an assortment of deadly characters all capable of eliminating anyone for the right price.

Based on the result of the follow up operation conducted by the police, thus far 4 of the arrested suspects were “dismissed” members of the Philippine Army, namely: Joric Labrador, Joven Javier, Benjie Rodriguez and Osmundo Rojas Rivero.

They were arrested in Bayawan City hours after the attack. Another suspect, Arnel Labradilla, turned out to be a former member of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), a sworn enemy of the Philippine Army. He was killed during an alleged encounter with the police on the same day also in Bayawan City.

The police said they are looking for a total of 12 suspects involved although survivors said at least 10 fully-armed men entered the Degamo compound that day.

The four arrested suspects have been transferred to the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila with Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla saying he has also instructed that “full protection” be also given to the suspects and their families including the possibility of placing them in the government’s ‘Witness Protection Program’ (WPP).

Thus far, according to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos, a total of 17 criminal cases have been filed against the suspects including murder, multiple murder, frustrated murder and illegal possession of firearms.

The trial of the cases would be in Manila, after the request by Remulla was approved by the Supreme Court, sitting ‘en banc,’ on Tuesday, March 15, 2023.

Degamo was laid to rest in his hometown of Siaton on Thursday, March 16, 2023, with the ‘mastermind’ yet to be named and charged by the police (see related article).

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