Justice for Degamo

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

The life of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo was like a very interesting teleserye, but it didn’t have a happy ending for the main character. Justice must be served to vindicate, at the very least, the family.

Like most Negrense, Degamo knew the political landscape of Negros Oriental. He knew the family names of political heavyweights; the rich and powerful hacienderos and hacienderas. If you don’t belong to the royal family, forget political ambitions.

Degamo was just the son of a fisherman in Siaton, a coastal municipality in Negros Oriental. He finished his basic education in Siaton and his Mechanical Engineering degree in Silliman University. He worked at NPC and climbed the corporate ladder because of his excellent performance.

In 1998, he was recruited to join politics. Initially hesitant, he ran, won, and served three consecutive terms. After that, he rested from politics.

In 2010, he was again recruited to run as a board member of Negros Oriental. Fortunately, he garnered the highest number of votes. That same year, however, the governor-elect, Emilio Macias, died of liver cancer. By succession, Vice Governor Agustin Perdices became governor, and Degamo became vice governor.

In 2011, Perdices also died of cancer. By destiny, Degamo became governor. The following year was his acid test when the province was hit by a strong earthquake, a make or break for his political career. With his hard work and dedication, the province was able to recover and stand again from the devastating calamity. He fixed the farm-to-market roads and made a series of medical missions.

In 2013 people asked him to continue serving as governor. He tried even if he knew that his rivals --Congresswoman Joceleyn Limkaichong and Gary Teves-- were political heavyweights.

In that election, Degamo was the underdog. While his two rivals used their helicopters to campaign, Degamo roamed around on land. But the election resulted in Limkaichong getting 50,891 only votes, Teves 63,648 votes, and Degamo 212,252 votes.

The next gubernatorial elections in 2016 and 2019 were relatively easy for Degamo. Because his supposedly last term was interrupted, he was qualified to run in 2022, his last election.

Bayawan City Mayor Pryde Henry Teves challenged Degamo that election. Another candidate, Greco Gaudia used the name “Ruel Degamo” to file his candidacy.

That prompted Degamo to file a petition to declare Gaudia a nuisance candidate, as his purpose was to mislead voters. The Comelec 2nd Division declared Gaudia a nuisance, but the Comelec en banc didn’t decide immediately.

So the election came. Teves got 301,319 votes, Roel Degamo garnered 281,773, and “Ruel Degamo” got 49,953. Teves was declared the winner and served as governor. When the Comelec and the Supreme Court finally declared “Ruel” a nuisance, his votes were added to Degamo’s, and the latter won. Degamo took over the capitol. The incident triggers a two-week standoff between their supporters.

Degamo could have still run for the 2025 and 2028 elections and served as governor until 2031 had he not been killed last March 4. Teves' camp denied any involvement in the incident. Representative Arnie Teves said they aren’t the beneficiary of the governor's killing.

Let’s hope and pray that justice will be served for Degamo and the eight innocent civilians.


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