THE Supreme Court has granted the request of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla to transfer the cases filed in connection to the brazen killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others to the Regional Trial Court of Manila (RT Manila).

The SC said all existing cases pending before the courts of Negros Oriental in relation to the incident should be transferred to the RT Manila while future cases which may be filed in relation to the case should also be filed before the said court.

Among the basis of the transfer cited by Remulla in his letter to Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo on March 9 were:

*The hostile environment for the respondents in Negros Oriental since the case has gained significant media attention;

*Political complexion of the case since three of the victims were government officials and politicians which may lead to intimidation and harassment of the respondents, the private complainants and their witnesses that could undermine the integrity of the trial; and

*Logistical difficulties while the trial is ongoing considering that some of the respondents were transferred at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Custodial Center in Manila to ensure their safety.

The Office of the Court Administrator said it “is completely in agreement and convince that, taking into account the reasons cited by Secretary Remulla, the venue of the cases he listed above should be transferred to the RTC of Manila” noting “it would be in the best interest of all parties involved and that it will provide a neutral venue where the trial can be conducted fairly and impartially, free from any undue influence or bias.”

Degamo was killed on March 4 when around 10 gunmen barged into his residence in Pamplona town and started shooting. Eight more individuals were killed during the incident while more than 10 were injured.

Four of the gunmen were arrested hours following the incident and they are now facing criminal charges along with several John Does which includes the mastermind.

Negros Oriental Third District Representative Arnulfo Teves Jr. was tagged as the brains behind the killing. (SunStar Philippines)