THE Department of National Defense (DND) has put into motion the verbal order issued by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to suppress lawless violence in Negros Oriental following the assassination of its governor on March 4.
DND Officer in Charge Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. flew to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental on Saturday to discuss with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) officials the creation of the joint task force group.
According to Galvez, who was accompanied by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino and PNP OIC LtGen. Rhodel Sermonia, Special Task Force Negros (STFN) will help ensure that incidents of violence in the island province will end after the fatal shooting of Gov. Roel Degamo and eight others.
He said its aim is also to speed up the suppression of impunity in the entire island and give justice to the families and loved ones of the victims.
The STFN has designated Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. as the chairman and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and Galvez as co-vice chairmen.
The respective agency heads of the PNP, AFP and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were designated as task force commanders.
Sermonia reaffirmed the PNP's cooperation with other agencies, as well as their continued investigations on the shooting of Degamo and other civilians.
For his part, Centino reiterated that the task force will be a “unity of effort” in restoring peace in Negros Oriental.
He said the task force is composed of two brigades with three battalions each. These units are currently doing specific tasks, but in light of the incident, they were given new instructions to give additional support to law enforcement operations of the PNP.
“We tasked the forces currently assigned here in Negros to make sure that all of them are aligned and they understand what they are supposed to be doing. We also deployed these forces in areas where we think they are needed the most,” Centino said.
“The deployment of the forces in Negros is to assure the people that the government is here, is working, and is making sure that peace and order will prevail in this part of the country,” he added.
Galvez and Centino also visited the wake of Degamo at the Provincial Government Building in Dumaguete City where they met his widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo.
Galvez encouraged those who have knowledge related to the ongoing investigation to relay the information to authorities.
“This task force has a unified command center for more accessibility to the civilians. Rest assured that all the information gathered will be used to get the justice everyone deserves,” he said.
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