Three arrested for killing Philippine governor

PAMPLONA: Three people have been arrested for the murder of a Philippine provincial governor and eight others, authorities said on Sunday, adding that another suspect was killed in a shootout.

17 people were also injured in Saturday’s bold attack in the sugarcane-growing heartland of the Philippines.

At least six gunmen in military uniforms, armed with rifles, opened fire on the governor’s house in the municipality of Pamplona in the central province of Negros Oriental.

Governor Roel Degamo became the latest victim in a recent spate of attacks on local Filipino politicians.

Two of the three suspects arrested are former soldiers who were dishonorably discharged several years ago, the Philippine Army said in a statement.

A fourth suspect was killed in a shootout at a plantation on Saturday night, police spokesman Lt. Col. Gerard Pelare told reporters.

Pelare said about 10 suspects were involved in the attack. Authorities believed they were still on the island after ports were closed to prevent their escape, he said.

The previous death toll had been estimated at six but was increased to nine late Saturday, police said. Thirteen people were hospitalized for their wounds, while four others were treated for minor injuries.

Negros Oriental is one of two provinces on Negros Island, which is the center of the country’s sugar industry and is home to some of the country’s richest landowners and some of the poorest farm workers.

Degamo, 56, was at least the third politician to be shot dead in the Philippines since last year’s general election.

The Supreme Court last month declared him the legitimate winner of the Negros Oriental gubernatorial contest after a recount unseated his rival, who had previously been declared the winner.

Degamo had been campaigning for the top post for President Ferdinand Marcos during Marcos’ run.

Marcos has condemned the “insidious and heinous” assassination of his political ally and dispatched his top officials, including police and military chiefs, to investigate.

Authorities presented evidence collected from the suspects, including powerful firearms and camouflage uniforms, at a news conference on Sunday, promising to solve the case.

“We will grab the mastermind, I assure you,” said Interior Minister Benjamin Abalos. -AFP Three arrested for killing Philippine governor

Russell Falcon

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