Malacañang on Sunday condemned the killing of Clarin, Misamis Occidental Mayor David Navarro, who was shot dead while he was being transported by police from the jail to inquest proceedings in city hall in Cebu City on Friday.
Navarro’s associates told the police that they had been receiving threats even before he figured in an incident at a massage parlor in Cebu City that led to his arrest on assault charges.
“We condemn that. We don’t want people to be killed as if they are dogs, chickens, or pigs,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a radio interview.
Duterte himself released a list of so-called narco-politicians ahead of the May elections. Clarin, who was number 31 on the list of 44, was reelected.
“Our citizens should not be ambushed or killed. Whether they are allegedly involved in illegal drugs or wanted criminals, it should go under the process of law,” Panelo said.
“Whether they are connected with drugs, we will not allow killings on roads. That is not the law that we follow,” he added.
Panelo also said there may have been security lapses on the part of the police officers who accompanied Navarro when the ambush took place.
“Maybe they were shocked and they were not expecting it since the police van was stopped,” he said.
Navarro was on his way to face inquest proceedings at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office when he was ambushed by about 10 armed masked men who stopped the police convoy, pulled the mayor out, and shot him in the head.
His escorts were also injured, police said.
“We will let the police do their work and prosecute those behind the killing,” Panelo said.
At least 12 mayors and seven vice mayors have been killed since Duterte took office in 2016.
“It means that if those mayors were involved in illegal drugs, then they are now killing each other,” Panelo said.
But Navarro’s sister Princess, who was with the mayor when he was killed, said in an interview that Navarro had political rivals in Clarin who could have been behind the killing.
“Let’s not directly relate the killing to [drugs]. We’re looking at all angles, including business and political rivalry,” Cebu City Police Director Gemma Cruz Vinluan said.
Asked why the police escorts were unable to fend off the suspects, Vinluan said the cops tried but got shot at first.
Two weeks ago, Navarro said he met with President Duterte in Manila supposedly to convince him that he was not involved in the illegal drug trade.
In a video interview with a local media outfit, Navarro said he was elated at having been given the chance to speak with the President.
The interview resurfaced on social media Saturday, a day after Navarro was killed in an ambush in Cebu City.
Navarro said all barangays in Clarin had been declared drug-free and that he had no record in the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency being involved in the illegal drug trade.
Navarro believed that if Duterte had doubted his personality, the latter would not have entertained him.
Navarro said, his younger brother, former Misamis Occidental board member Dan Navarro, was appointed the regional director of Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) in Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula).
“If the President had doubts about our family, there’s no reason why the administration would hire one of our own,” Navarro said. With PNA