MANILA, March 4 (AP): Gunmen in military uniforms shot and killed a provincial governor and wounded civilians while the politician was meeting poor villagers at his home in the central Philippines, in the latest brazen assault on local politicians in the country, police officials said.
At least six men armed with assault rifles alighted from a convoy and opened fire on Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, hitting him and a still-unspecified number of villagers at his home in Pamplona town. The province has a history of violent political rivalries. The gunmen fled and later abandoned three SUVs, police said.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr condemned the mid-morning attack, which was witnessed by local officials and poor villagers who gathered in front of Degamo’s house to seek cash and medical aid, officials said.
“My government will not rest until we have brought the perpetrators of this dastardly and heinous crime to justice,” Marcos said in a statement.
Marcos said without elaborating that authorities have gathered “much information and now have a clear direction on how to proceed to bring to justice those behind this killing,” adding the mastermind and the killers “can run but you cannot hide. We will find you. If you surrender now it will be your best option.”
Degamo’s killing is the latest in a series of high-profile gun attacks on local politicians that underscore how criminal violence even against officials has persisted despite the government’s pledge to combat such violence.
Gunmen wounded Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. of southern Lanao del Sur province and killed four of his bodyguards in an attack on their convoy last month. Police said they killed one of the suspects in a clash.
In a separate recent attack, unidentified men reportedly wearing police uniforms fired guns at the van of northern Aparri town Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda, killing him and five companions in northern Nueva Vizcaya province. The suspects remain at large.
Crimes, decades-long Muslim and communist rebellions, and other security concerns are some of the major problems inherited by Marcos, who took office in June last year.