The Philippine leader ordered a crackdown after the governor’s assassination

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Monday he has ordered police to crack down on illegal firearms and private armies and described as “horrifying” weekend shootings that killed a provincial governor and eight others in a crowd.

The attack on Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo at his home on Saturday by at least six men armed with assault rifles and wearing military camouflage and body armor was the deadliest for a politician in recent weeks.

It was also the most alarming shooting attack under Marcos, who said he was shocked to see footage of gunmen entering Degamo’s apartment complex, then opening fire on everyone in front of them, even those who “ who were not involved in their conflict. “

“It’s particularly terrifying and it’s really… I don’t know. This does not belong to society,” Marcos said at a news conference when asked about the worst killings since he took office last June. Killing Degamo “is completely unacceptable and will not stand. This cannot go unpunished.”

Government forces are still chasing other suspects in the region, which has been cut off from law enforcement, Marcos said, adding without specifying that the raid was “purely political.”

Police said four suspects, including two ex-army soldiers, were arrested and charged, and another was killed in a brief shootout with police. The army and police should maintain a high presence in the province to prevent further violence, Marcos said.

He said he had ordered the Interior Ministry and the national police to assess the country’s political hotspots, then disband private armies and confiscate illegal firearms that had fueled such impunity in the past.

Degamo, who supported Marcos’ presidential bid last year, was meeting with a group of poor villagers seeking medical and other aid when gunmen calmly entered his apartment complex in the city of Pamplona and opened fire. They fled in three jeeps, which were later abandoned in a nearby town. Police said about 10 men were seen running away.

At least 17 others, including a doctor and two soldiers, were injured in the attack, police said.

Degamo, a longtime politician, initially lost the race for governor of Negros Oriental in last year’s election, but was later appointed governor after filing a petition in court. Several years ago, he said, without elaborating, that he had received death threats in the province, which has a history of bloody political conflict and violence linked to a communist insurgency.

Degamo’s killing underscores that even local and influential politicians are not immune to high-profile gun violence, which continues despite the government’s pledge to combat it.

Besides Degamo, at least four other politicians have been attacked in recent weeks.

Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. of the southern province of Lanao del Sur was wounded and four of his bodyguards were killed in an attack on their convoy last month. Police said they killed one of the suspects in the standoff and identified others who will soon be charged.

In another attack, men dressed in police uniforms fired on the van of Aparí city deputy mayor Rommel Alameda, killing him and five passengers in the northern province of Nueva Vizcaya. The suspects remain at large.

Crime and decades of Muslim and communist insurgency fueled by an abundance of unlicensed firearms and ineffective law enforcement are some of the major problems inherited by Marcos, a former provincial governor.

In 2009, nearly 200 armed followers led by members of a political clan blocked a rival convoy ahead of local elections, then took the 58 victims, including 32 media workers, to a nearby hill in the town of Ampatuan in the southern province of Maguindanao, where all were shot down. A court convicted the detained key members of the Ampatuan family for the murders a decade later, but many suspects remain at large.

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