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5 Mar, 2023 02:17

Governor assassinated during constituency meeting

Attackers in “full battle gear” gunned down a provincial leader and five civilians in the Philippines
Governor assassinated during constituency meeting

The governor of Negros Oriental province in the southern Philippines has been shot dead by men armed bearing assault rifles and wearing military-style camouflage and bullet-proof vests. The attack, the latest in a string of shootings targeting regional politicians, also left five civilians dead.

At least six heavily armed men wearing “pixelated uniforms” opened fire on Governor Roel Degamo in front of his house in Pamplona town on Saturday morning, fatally hitting him and the five other victims, police said. The civilians caught up in the shooting are said to be local villagers who had gathered in front of Degamo’s house to seek aid.

The suspects fled the scene in three sport utility vehicles, which they later abandoned. Hours later, three men were arrested by Negros Oriental police, who identified two of the suspects as former soldiers.

“My government will not rest until we have brought the perpetrators of this dastardly and heinous crime to justice,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in a statement.

The country has a history of political violence, as well as Islamist and Communist rebellions. Over the last month alone, Lanao del Sur governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. was wounded in a brazen attack that left five of his bodyguards dead, while the mayor of Maguindanao del Sur, Ohto Caumbo Montawal, was wounded when two gunmen shot at his vehicle. In the northern Philippines, vice mayor of Aparri town Rommel Alameda and his companions were gunned down by men reportedly wearing police uniforms in yet another attack last month. 

The slain governor, who first took office in 2011, was forced out in an election last year – but reinstated following a recount in October. Just two weeks ago, the Supreme Cout supported the election officials' decision to overturn the result and grant Degamo the votes that had been cast for a spoiler candidate with an identical surname.

Degamo’s wife, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, said in a Facebook post that her husband was serving constituents on Saturday, and “did not deserve that kind of death.”

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