As Cebu cops re-enact Navarro’s ambush: Palace slams killing
CEBU, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday condemned the killing of Clarin, Misamis Occidental Mayor David Navarro, saying the rule of law should prevail even if the slain local executive was accused of involvement in illegal drugs.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Duterte administration expects the police to do its work and prosecute those behind the killing of Navarro, one of the 44 officials linked by President Duterte to drug trafficking last March.
“People should not be ambushed or killed, whether they are suspected of being involved in drugs or they are wanted criminals. We have to let the legal process take its course. So we condemn that. You should not be killed like a dog, a chicken or a wild boar. We’re against it,” Panelo said in a radio interview.
Navarro was ambushed while in police custody in Cebu City last Friday. The mayor, who was visiting the city on official business, was arrested for allegedly assaulting an attendant of a massage parlor and harassing a female therapist.
The incident last Friday happened about two weeks after Navarro met with Duterte to respond to allegations that he was into illegal drugs trade.
Panelo said it was possible that the policemen guarding the mayor had committed security lapses.
“We are wondering why they were not able to react. Perhaps they were shocked. They did not expect it,” the presidential spokesman said.
Panelo is not discounting the possibility that the ambush may be related to the narcotics trade.
“We do not know whether those who ambushed him were his companions who got angry with him or whether they had a botched deal in their connections. We really do not know. Nevertheless, whether it was connected to drugs, we won’t allow such killings. That’s not the law we follow. We will have to let the police do their work and then prosecute those behind the killing,” he said.
Yesterday, the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) staged a re-enactment of the ambush on M. Velez Street.
Police Regional Office – 7 Director Valeriano de Leon said the re-enactment was necessary for authorities to have a feel of what happened on site.
“No one could ever understand the situation hangga’t hindi ikaw ang nandoon kaya titingnan namin kung may kaukulang pananagutan ang ating security escort (No one will ever understand what happened until you are there, and we also want to find out if there were lapses on the part of the security escorts),” De Leon said.
Headed by Cebu City Police Director Gemma Vinluan, the SITG was created to investigate the ambush. It is composed of personnel from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-7, Guadalupe Police Station, PNP Crime Laboratory-7, Regional Intelligence Operating Unit, and Regional Legal Division-7.
Deputy Regional Director for Operation Geovanie Maines is supervising the investigation. De Leon said the investigation will continue even if Navarro’s family will not file a complaint.
Vinluan, for her part, said they provided Navarro adequate security.
“Oo, nakita mo naman naka bullet vest pa eh… kung gusto ko ipapatay yan, di ko papalagyan ng bullet vest. That is very simple… hindi ko gagawin yan dahil nasa amin mismo; di parang ako mismo ang nagpapatay sa sarili ko kung gawin ko yan (He had a bullet vest. If I wanted him killed, we wouldn’t have given him a bullet vest. That is very simple… having him killed would mean having myself killed because he was our responsibility),” Vinluan explained.
A white van blocked the police vehicle carrying Navarro just as it was entering the compound where the prosecutor’s office is located. Ten heavily armed men jumped out of the white van, surrounded the police patrol car, and dragged Navarro out before shooting him.
Navarro had gunshot wounds in the head, shoulders, and arms. His police escort, Corporal Eutemeo Catalan, was also shot in the foot while three of his personal aides also sustained injuries.
De Leon said earlier there is no shoot-to-kill order against mayors in the list of politicians allegedly involved in the drug trade.
De Leon said they are looking at all possible motives in the killing.
“There are possibilities. Kahit naman nasa narcolist… do they have orders to shoot to kill? Wala naman… Motive, sa ngayon wala pa. We are looking at all angles. Work, personal, may naagrabyado ba. Sa affliations ba. Titignan din sa drugs (There are possibilities but even if he’s in the narcolist, was there a shoot-to-kill order? I don’t think so… We haven’t identified the motive… we are looking at all angles – work, personal, affiliations, drugs),” he said.
Back in Malacañang, Panelo said of the 12 mayors and seven vice mayors who were killed since Duterte became president in 2016: “That means if they are mayors and they are involved in drugs, they are killing each other because we do not allow those in power to be involved in that. We need to implement the law. Justice must be served through rule of law.” Philippine Star News Service