PAMPLONA, Negros Oriental – "Buhi ako, buhi ako (I’m alive, I’m alive)."
This is what Barangay Yupisan Captain Mary Ann Ramirez could muster as she held tightly her dying husband, Barangay Kagawad Jose Marie Ramirez, who was fatally shot by the suspects who stormed inside the residential compound of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo in this town on March 4.
Degamo, along with eight civilians, was killed, while 17 others were injured.
The Ramirez couple was accompanying Joseph Retada and his wife of Barangay Obogon in neighboring Tanjay City to see the governor on that day.
Retada was supposed to ask Degamo for assistance as his five-year-old daughter died of dengue last September.
Mary Ann Ramirez said that she and Retada’s wife were waiting in line while their husbands stayed behind the gate.
Footage from the viral closed-circuit television of the Degamo assassination showed that the two men—Ramirez and Retada—were fatally shot in their backs when they tried to get awa from the assailants.
Ramirez’s wife recalled that the incident happened very quickly, in less than a minute. "We thought we were safe because we were inside the house of Guv," she added.
She said they immediately ducked for cover after hearing the gunshots.
She said it’s hard to forget the horrific experience: "I could still hear people crying for help... I could still see them covered in blood," she said in a vernacular.
When she realized that her husband was among those who had been shot, she immediately went over to him and hugged him.
"I told him I’m alive. I think he heard it as he took his last breath," she said, as she recalled her husband replying faintly, "Oo, oo...(yes, yes...)," the barangay captain said.
She said that her husband was rushed to the hospital, but he was declared dead on arrival.
He succumbed to a fatal gunshot wound on the back that exited to his chest, she added.
Ramirez’s wife was left to take care of their three children, including a two-month-old infant.
She said that her husband and Retada were mistaken by the assailants for bodyguards of the governor as they were standing behind the gate during the gun attack.
This was also claimed by Barangay Obogon Captain Cristito Radan.
Radan said that Retada, who was the chief tanod in their village, wore a cap, shorts, and had a sling bag that day, while he was waiting for his wife behind the gate.
"When the suspects fired their guns, he was hit first. They thought he was a bodyguard of the governor," he said.
Retada had a fatal gunshot wound in the back and neck.
The barangay chief said that Retada is a big loss to them as he was a kind man and a hard worker, adding that the victim was with them for more than seven years.
Meanwhile, Retada was laid to rest on Saturday, March 11, while Ramirez’s burial was set for March 14.
Footage from the closed-circuit television showed that the two victims were waiting for their wives behind the gate when the assailants opened fire, killing Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others. (Contributed photo)
March 13, 2023
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