By Daniel Llanto
FilAm Star Correspondent
Previously quick to defend police in every drug-related killing, President Duterte suspected that a case of extra-judicial killing indeed took place when Mayor David Navarro of Clarin, Misamis Occidental, who was on Duterte’s list of alleged narco-politicians, was gunned down while being brought to a prosecutor’s office on a three-vehicle police convoy.
Although on the President’s watch-list of narco-politicians, Navarro was heavily escorted when driven to the City Prosecutor’s Office last October 25 for inquest proceedings on charges of usurpation of authority, slight physical injury and acts of lasciviousness in a massage parlor.
The mayor was taken in for questioning on illegal drug charges but was released in March.
It was learned that Navarro supported candidate Duterte in 2016, which Duterte now acknowledges.
Along the route, about 10 armed men ambushed the three-vehicle convoy escorting Navarro. What aroused suspicion was that none of the policemen in the two vehicles escorting Navarro attempted to return fire. The victim died from multiple gunshot wounds in the head as if the attackers knew Navarro was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Police claimed they could not manage to fire back at the perpetrators since the incident happened so fast.
President Duterte questioned the Philippine National Police (PNP) as a whole and ordered the police to stop their investigation. He ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to take over the probe.
The President noted that Navarro was his supporter during the last elections, adding that “somebody is out to get him,” referring to the town mayor.
“Kaya nga sinasabi ko, PNP, anong ginawa ng PNP? Baka sila ang pumatay? Eh sila yung malapit,” he said.
“Anyway iniimbestigahan pa. It’s being investigated by the NBI. Mas gusto ko NBI na lang para walang… kasi nung nangyari yan kasama ang pulis e. To make it really fair, I’d like the PNP to terminate their investigation and hand it to the NBI whatever documents and/or proof or evidence that they have in their hands,” Duterte said.
Hours before he was killed in the ambush in Cebu City, Navarro’s wife disclosed that he felt uneasy about his safety in the hands of police. In a social media post, Misamis Occidental board member Elsa Navarro revealed that her husband texted his apprehensions around 5 a.m. Friday.
In a text message, Navarro apologized for shaming Elsa and their family by physically abusing a masseur but said it was in response to a provocation which he did not elaborate on.
“I am sorry, I don’t know if I could (stay) alive in the hands of the police here in Cebu,” Navarro said in his long text message in Visayan.
In Clarin, Misamis Occidental, the late mayor’s brother Dan, a former local politician, decried the allegations of Navarro’s involvement in the robbery and illegal drugs.
Dan told local media upon arrival of the mayor’s remains from Cebu that official records do not support the claims.
Dan said that the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 3 has issued a certification that his brother has “no pending case/s” and was not included in a robbery case filed against the three suspects.
Dan also showed to the media a certification from the Department of Justice, dated July 25, 2018, certifying that the mayor has no pending cases before the agency.
Navarro’s younger brother also dispelled notions of the late mayor’s involvement in illegal drugs, saying he has been cleared of such accusations even at the time that Sen. Ronald dela Rosa was PNP chief. He pointed to a report of the Major Crime Investigation Unit (MCIU) of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) as having cleared Navarro’s name of drug links.
Navarro was included in Duterte’s 2017 narco-list. His name came up again in the list released in time for the May 2019 mid-term elections to warn voters.