Press Release
April 17, 2023

COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ORDER AND DANGEROUS DRUGS
OPENING STATEMENT
April 17, 2023
Agenda: P.S. Res. No. 518 - Brazen Assassination of Incumbent Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo (By: Sen. Hontiveros)

First of all, I would just like to express my sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Governor Degamo and the Negrense victims killed on March 4, 2023. Alam ko po kung gaano kahirap at kasakit mawalan ng mahal sa buhay. Ngunit ang hindi ko po yata kayang tanggapin ay kung ang isang mahal sa buhay ay mamamatay lamang sa mga kamay ng walang awa at walang pusong kriminal.

We can only wish that this is only a bad dream and everything will be alright when we wake up. But we have to face the truth that our loved ones are lost forever.

When the news came out that Governor Degamo, along with several civilians, had been mercilessly gunned down while he was in the middle of distributing provisions to his constituents, it came as a cruel shock to all of us. He was killed in the line of duty--serving the people.

The spate of killings of several other political leaders and local government officials months prior, should have served as a warning to Governor Degamo to hide and fear for his own life. But he didn't. He continued his life of public service until his last breath.

Although the worst has already happened, your Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs will not allow impunity to prevail. The brutality committed against Governor Degamo and the people of Negros Oriental will not be swept under the rug. Violence has no place in our society.

The Senate is not a court of law. However, this does not mean that we do not bear the responsibility to prevent the proliferation of evil. The Senate cannot pass a sentence upon a person whom it believes has committed crime. But it is expected to craft laws to secure and maintain the peace and order in our communities.

An unfortunate and reprehensible event has exposed policy gaps that hinder our law enforcement agencies, our Justice Department, and other government agencies, for the speedy administration of justice to the victims. We intend to bridge those gaps through legislation and hopefully, the tragedy that the people of Negros Oriental experienced would be the last.

For the record, I personally know Governor Roel Degamo and his wife, Mayor Janice Degamo, and the alleged mastermind of this act, Congressman Arnie Teves. In the spirit of fairness, we invited in this proceeding resource persons that the Committee believes to be relevant in our quest to improve our policies for the preservation of peace and order in the country.

We grieve with the victims; we condemn the wrongful acts of the perpetrators. We refuse to be bystanders. And ultimately, we are here to fulfill our mandate.

May today's hearing be irrefutable proof of that.

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