DEFENSE Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Friday, March 10, 2023, that additional military troops will be deployed in Negros Island to prevent the escalation of lawless violence there following the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

In a press conference, Galvez said he was instructed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to take part in the ongoing effort in the province against criminal activities and to restore it back to normalcy amid the emergence of new cases.

“The President also issued verbal orders to create a joint task force composed of two brigades and six battalions to step up to the joint AFP-PNP (Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police) operations and carry out the President’s directive and search warrants,” he said.

“Also, we have just deployed a 50-man specially trained strong Light Reaction Company — kung alam niyo po yung Light Reaction Company, they were involved in the Battle of Marawi — from the deployment of the AFP to monitor the remaining suspects,” he added.

AFP Chief of Staff General Andres Centino said they have immediately formed the Joint Task Force Negros with Brigadier General Marion Sison, commander of the 3rd infantry division, as head.

He said they also deployed an elite unit from Cotabato “to suppress all forms of lawless violence and restore peace and order in Negros Island as soon as possible.”

Centino said they are looking into the involvement of another group in the assassination of Degamo.

“So that’s why we cannot just be complacent,” he said.

Degamo was gunned down in broad daylight on March 4 in his residence in Pamplona town. Eight other individuals were also killed while over ten were seriously hurt.

Four of the at least 10 gunmen were arrested during the conduct of hot-pursuit operations hours after the killing.

Two of the suspects allegedly tagged Negros Oriental Third District Representative Arnulfo Teves as the brains behind the killing.

On Tuesday, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed murder charges against Teves and several other individuals for allegedly orchestrating the killing of three individuals in the province.

Teves already denied involvement in the killing of Degamo.

In an interview on Friday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, who earlier noted the “pattern of impunity” in the province, said they are looking into 10 more murder cases in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental and Dumaguete, among others. (SunStar Philippines)