The Manila government confirmed that mercenary soldiers killed Negros Oriental Governor Degamo and eight provincial staff and constituents and wounded 16 others, in an assault on the governor’s residence in Pamplona town on 5 March.

Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said that they will monitor the post-military service activities of all of Army personnel with “special skills.”

Admitting basic flaws in the reactionary military orientation, he said that they would intensify its “values formation,” to discourage its personnel, regardless whether they are in active service, retired or discharged, from using their “military skills to harm innocent civilians.”

The proliferation of private armies ran by former military and police operatives engendered intense armed clashes among the country’s political dynasties.

Many local officials – both incumbent and former – were killed since Marcos Jr. took office in June 2022, continuing the trend under former president Rodrigo Duterte where at least 10 mayors and 18 vice mayors were killed between 2016 and 2022.

As of 4 March, one vice mayor and one governor were killed under the current administration. Five former officials have been killed, too – four former mayors and one former vice mayor.

In February, there were at least two attempts on the lives of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. and Mayor Montawal of Datu Montawal, Maguindanao.

House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro condemned the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, pointing out that the recent string of attacks was like the events prior to the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.

“All these must be taken into consideration as there is again a concerted effort to change the Constitution, and these attacks may again be used to justify such a move to make a more totalitarian charter like that of the 1973 Constitution,” Castro said.

“We must be very vigilant and see the patterns that are emerging; these attacks may be a scheme to again justify a more draconian government and Constitution, with those in power remaining indefinitely at the top,” she added.