MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday said he has directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to identify crime hotspots in the country following the high-profile killings of local officials, including Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo on March 4.
“Sinabi ko sa ating [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Secretary [Benhur] Abalos and PNP is to now make an examination kagaya yung ating ginagawa kapag darating ang eleksyon kung saan ang hotspot (I told Secretary Abalos and the PNP to make an examination like what they conduct whenever there are elections, to identify the hotspot),” he said in a media interview after witnessing the ceremonial signing of the Kapatid Angat Lahat for Agriculture Program (KALAP) at the Ceremonial Hall of Malacañang Palace.
Marcos said he also saw the need to “dismantle” possible private armed groups during elections.
“Ang usual naman talaga na dapat gawin diyan ay hanapin ang illegal na firearms. Basta kakaunti ang illegal firearms, kakaunti ang ganyang klaseng krimen. Yung mga private army na ganyan, kailangan talaga i-dismantle lahat 'yan (The usual thing to do is search for all illegal firearms. If there are fewer illegal firearms, there would be fewer crimes. These private armies must be really dismantled),” he added.
So far, Marcos said he is pleased with the initial results of the ongoing investigation.
The PNP earlier said they have already arrested four suspects while one died after a firefight during the hot pursuit operations.
“So far, maganda naman ang nagiging imbestigasyon. Marami silang nakukuhang information. Mabilis naman ang paghuli sa ating mga suspects. Sa ngayon meron pa rin tayong in hot pursuit (So far, the investigation seems to be going well. They’re getting a lot of information. They arrest of suspects was done quickly. Now, they’re also conducting hot pursuit operations),” he said.
Marcos said Degamo’s killing is “entirely unacceptable”, adding that the government would ensure that perpetrators “cannot go unpunished.”
Marcos described Degamo’s killing as “shocking” and “terrifying”, citing how the governor was killed in front of his residence in San Isidro Village.
“It was shocking. I couldn't believe that this would still happen… This one is particularly terrifying…This does not belong in our society. Hindi na pwede yung ganyan kaya't hindi natin pababayaan (We cannot allow this to keep happening),” he said.
Marcos also assured that the government will step up efforts to increase police visibility and intelligence gathering.
Marcos, likewise, acknowledged that all local officials have every reason to seek protection after Negros Oriental 3rd district Representative Arnie Teves Jr. made a request following allegations that he was linked to Degamo’s death.
Teves earlier denied any involvement in Degamo's murder, saying he has no motive to do so.
Degamo’s assassination is the most recent attack on government officials, after the wounding of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. on Feb. 17; death of Aparri Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda on Feb. 19 ambush; wounding of Maguindanao del Sur Mayor Ohto Caumbo Montawal on Feb. 22; and killing of Lipa, Batangas Barangay Captain Vivencio Palo on Feb. 26. (PNA)