MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has issued an administrative order (AO) creating a special task force to maintain peace and order and suppress threats to safety and security on Negros Island.
“There is a need to create a Special Task Force to prevent the spread and escalation of violence elsewhere in the Philippines, and to preserve peace and order in Negros Island, with due regard to the fundamental civil and political rights of the people,” AO 6 read.
The AO was issued after the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo at his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental on March 4.
The incident also killed eight civilians and left 17 others wounded.
“Similar violent incidents have occurred in the past, and at present, threats to safety and security occur across different sectors and affect various stakeholders in Negros Island,” the AO read.
The task force, called “DEGAMO,” will be chaired by the Department of the Interior and Local Government secretary and co-chaired by the respective secretaries of the Department of Justice and the Department of National Defense.
Task force commanders include the chief of the Philippine National Police, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Under AO 6, the Department of Social Welfare and Development is tasked to extend emergency relief assistance to the families of the victims, while the Department of Health shall provide psychological rehabilitation to affected individuals.
The task force will consist of National Task Groups, namely Intelligence, Law Enforcement Operations, Investigation and Legal, and Strategic Communications and Community Relations.
The task force must issue the necessary Operational Guidelines to implement the order within 20 days after the AO takes effect.
The Presidential Assistant for the Visayas is likewise ordered to coordinate with the task force “with the aim of enlisting the full support of all stakeholders.”
The task force will have the power to coordinate and rationalize the efforts of concerned government agencies and instrumentalities to “ensure a whole-of-government approach in the prevention, investigation, prosecution, and punishment of violence in Negros Island.”
It is further tasked to intensify the campaign against private armed groups and loose firearms.
On Monday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla deemed as “case closed” the murder of Degamo and eight others, saying 11 of the suspects have been arrested and are under the custody of the NBI. (PNA)