PAMPLONA, PHILIPPINES — Three people have been arrested over the murder of a Philippine provincial governor and eight others, authorities said Sunday, adding another suspect was killed in a shoot-out.
Seventeen people were also wounded in the audacious attack on Saturday in the sugarcane-growing heartland of the Philippines.
At least six gunmen armed with rifles and wearing military-style uniforms opened fire in the governor’s home in Pamplona municipality in the central province of Negros Oriental.
Governor Roel Degamo became the latest victim of a recent rash of assaults on local Philippine politicians.
Two of the three suspects arrested were former soldiers who were dishonourably discharged several years ago, the Philippine Army said in a statement.
A fourth suspect was killed in a shootout in a plantation on Saturday night, police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Pelare told journalists.
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 put at six but was raised to nine late Saturday, police said. Thirteen people were hospitalised for their wounds, while four others were treated for minor injuries.
Negros Oriental is one of two provinces on Negros island, which is the centre of the nation’s sugar industry and home to some of the country’s wealthiest landowners as well as some of its poorest farm workers.
Degamo, 56, was at least the third politician to be shot in the Philippines since last year’s general election.
The Supreme Court declared him last month the rightful winner of the contest for the Negros Oriental governorship following a recount that unseated his rival, who had previously been proclaimed victor.
Degamo had campaigned for President Ferdinand Marcos during Marcos’ run for the top job.
Marcos has condemned the “dastardly and heinous” assassination of his political ally and has sent his top officials, including police and military chiefs, to investigate.
Authorities presented evidence at a news conference on Sunday gathered from the suspects, including high-powered firearms and camouflage uniforms, and vowed to solve the case.
“We will capture the mastermind, I assure you that,” Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos said.