DUMAGUETE CITY – Witnesses to the Pamplona massacre and other killings in Negros Oriental departed for Manila on Saturday, two days ahead of a Senate hearing and the Department of Justice (DOJ) preliminary investigation into the gunslay of Governor Roel Degamo and eight others last month.
The group of about 40 people, led by Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, the slain governor’s wife, boarded a Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft at the Dumaguete-Sibulan airport here at about 10:30 a.m.
They are scheduled to attend the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs hearing on Monday and the DOJ proceedings, Degamo said in an interview shortly before their departure.
She said while the two activities center on the Pamplona massacre, past killings in Negros Oriental would also be investigated as she believes many of them are connected.
“We can say that the Pamplona massacre is not an isolated case because if you thoroughly study the spate of killings in Negros Oriental, you will really recognize that the Pamplona massacre was in some ways a culmination of the previous killings,” she said.
Spotted at the airport before departure were some massacre survivors and families of slain victims, as well as the next-of-kin of previous shooting incidents, including one related to a murdered media practitioner.
Degamo said they are looking at initially 10 days of marathon hearings at the Senate but admitted she still has no idea how long the investigation would run.
She reiterated her concern over the attendance of Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. via videoconference, saying that it is unfair for him to be allowed to participate virtually while she and the rest are spending time, money, and effort to drop everything just so they could attend in person.
Teves has been tagged as the alleged mastermind in the Pamplona massacre.
He has yet to return to the Philippines despite the expiry of his travel authority and his 60-day suspension imposed by Congress.
He was quoted by some media reports as saying that he fears for his life.
Mayor Degamo expressed hope that the Senate investigation would help bring justice to her slain husband and all other victims of killings in the province.
“We are hopeful over this because we feel that this is our last recourse. We can only do so much and we will do it, so that by the end of the day, we can say that we did our best to achieve justice for them all,” she said. (PNA)