THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has taken custody of the four respondents in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight civilians after expressing their willingness to cooperate with the ongoing police investigation.
In a statement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the four respondents identified as Joven Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, Joric Labrador and Osmundo Rivero were transported to Metro Manila from Dumaguete City Tuesday morning.
They were escorted by the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the airport to Camp Crame, where National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents as well as officers of the Witness Protection Program (WPP) were waiting for them.
DOJ spokesman Jose Dominic Clavano earlier said two of the respondents are being considered to be placed under WPP.
“However, early this afternoon, the remaining two respondents likewise express their intention to cooperate. Thus, the PNP and NBI have agreed to the turnover of the remaining two respondents,” the DOJ said.
The DOJ said the statements executed by the respondents are still in the verification process.
“The specific motive of the murder has yet to be confirmed as the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] and the DOJ will exert every effort to see all the factors at play in this incident,” the DOJ said.
Meanwhile, the DOJ reported that an information for three counts of murder and frustrated murder have been filed before the Regional Trial Court of Tanjay City, Negros Oriental against Labrador, Javier, Rodriguez and Rivero and 12 other “John Does.”
Another set of information for three counts for violation of laws on the illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives against three of the respondents were also filed before the Regional Trial Court of Bayawan City.
“The DOJ is also in coordination with the PNP for any future cases that may be filed in relation to the incident. This includes inquest from any arrests that may arise from continuing hot pursuit operations as well as any complaints for preliminary investigation,” the statement read.
The DOJ earlier offered a P5 million reward for anyone who can provide information that will lead to the immediate arrest of the suspects.
Prior to his killing, the Supreme Court issued last month a ruling that affirmed the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) declaring Degamo as the duly elected provincial governor of Negros Oriental during the May 2022 elections.
The SC junked the petition filed by former Negros Oriental congressman Pryde Henry Teves seeking the reversal of the resolution issued by the Comelec on September 1, 2022, which declared a certain Grego Ruel Degamo as a nuisance candidate.
The Comelec then ordered that the 49,953 votes obtained by Grego be credited in favor of Degamo, bringing the latter’s total votes to 331,727.
As a result, the Comelec annulled Teves’ proclamation as provincial governor since his total votes of 301,000 was lower that Degamo’s votes.