DAVAO CITY – The New People’s Army denied that they had a hand in the killing of Laak Mayor Reynaldo Navarro saying that they have “not considered him an enemy that warrants a standing order.”
“Navarro’s track record did not make him a legitimate military target, thus, no revolutionary punishment was executed against him,” said NPA-Southern Mindanao Region Spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez in a statement sent to the media a day after Navarro was ambushed in Asuncion, Davao del Norte Wednesday.
Sanchez said that while Navarro “was part of the Big 4 in Agusan-Comval (Compostela Valley)-Davao del Norte forests”, he “has cooperated with comrades and in many ways have demonstrated actions that point to his recognition of the revolutionary cause.”
The “Big 4” is a group local government officials, police and army officers whom the NPA accused of being “involved” or “protectors” of big logging operations in Compostela Valley.
Sanchez cited Navarro’s being a “long-time politician whose area covers territories of the People’s Democratic Government in Compostela Valley.”
The rebel leader, however said, that in the last few years, Navarro’s “business interest in logging and agribusiness expansion has increased.”
Sanchez said that they “have repeatedly warned him of his increasing anti-people activities” but “Navarro had merely ignored these warnings.”
The NPA also said that this has “forced the NPA Comval-North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional command to caution him publicly against wanton logging, militarization, and the attendant of human rights abuses that occur during these operations.”
“In the midst of these warnings, there are no strong grounds showing Navarro’s grave offenses against the revolutionary movement that would necessitate the People’s Democratic Government to hand down the maximum penalty of capital punishment,” said Sanchez.
Meanwhile, Sanchez said the 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is accusing the NPA for Navarro’s murder to agitate the mayor’s supporters and recruit them to become the AFP’s “new lackeys and bandits under the Oplan [Operational Plan] Bayanihan counterrevolutionary campaign.”
The Army and police authorities have “considered” the rebel group as suspects of the killings because of its recent statements linking Navarro to logging.
In recent news reports, however, Compostela Valley Provincial Police Office (CVPPO) Director Abraham Rojas said that they are looking into “all possible angles” of Navarro’s killing. Rojas said they are still conducting “further investigation.”
Navarro, 62, was on his way to Tagum City on board a white Montero Sport when armed men riding in two motorcycles attacked his convoy in Kilometer 9, Barangay Sigayen, Asuncion, Davao del Norte at around 8:30 to 9am Wednesday. (davaotoday.com)