The scene of the Degamo killing is now cordoned off (Sunstar photo courtesy)
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday filed Philippine Senate Resolution No. 518, urging the Senate to conduct an investigation on the series of political killings, after the assassination of incumbent Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.
“These killers are so emboldened, the violence happens in broad daylight. Wala na silang hiya o takot. Even more disturbing, uniformed personnel are complicit or actively involved. In the case of Gov. Degamo’s assassination, at least 5 others were also killed. This culture of impunity is a grave danger to the public,” she said.
The senator said this is ‘not the first time’ she called for an investigation into killings in Negros Oriental. In 2019, a weeklong killing spree in Negros Oriental, Oplan Sauron, saw the death of Atty. Anthony Trinidad and several other civilians.
“We should be horrified by the frequency of political assassinations. Hindi na COMELEC ang arbiter, kundi ang gatilyo. Historical and worsening violence is corrupting our nation, in once-peaceful places like Negros Oriental. Sa mahabang panahon, tumatapang lang ang mga assassins,” she said.
The senator said that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) needs to review its processes for settling election-related disputes and violence.
“COMELEC’s processes have become increasingly ineffective and inefficient. The inordinate delay of COMELEC en banc rulings may have aggravated vindictiveness. Election-related killings tarnish the sanctity of our elections, which COMELEC is responsible for protecting. Their call of duty is beyond election day,” she said.
Hontiveros said that in the first months of the new administration alone, there have already been seven (7) killings and attempted assassinations across the country, mostly done in public.
These include the attempted assassinations of Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Almeda, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr., Mayor Ohto Caumbo Montawal of Datu Montawal, Maguindanao del Sur, and the killings of former Vice Mayor Danilo Amat of Quezon, Quezon Province, former Vice Mayor Romeo Sulit from Lobo, Batangas, former Mayor Rosita Furigay of Lamitan City, Basilan and recently Governor Degamo.
“A Senate investigation should be conducted not only to exact justice for the victims but also to identify the underlying drivers of the killings, particularly the failure and inaction of our institutions, including our law enforcement agencies, to address political and election-related violence,” her resolution states.
The senator said that the killings were becoming ‘increasingly disturbing’, especially because of the ‘complicity and active involvement of men formerly in the uniformed service’.
“The virus of impunity continues to proliferate, and our state forces are heavily infected. How can the public trust killers masquerading as law enforcement? Who is giving the marching orders?” she asked.
While the Senate investigates, Hontiveros said she hopes Malacanan can speak on the issue beyond individual cases.
“Huwag nating gawin normal ang patayan. The past years have encouraged murder as a default way of silencing and manipulating. Our people are not just collateral damage to political agendas. It is time for a rude awakening for those who abuse their power. The government must take a strong stand as an institution to condemn these killings and to take concrete actions to end this savagery,” she concluded. (Amado Inigo/MTVN)