THE justice department yesterday mourned the passing of one of its veteran prosecutors who was credited for putting behind bars retired Army general Jovito Palparan and members of the Ampatuan clan in relation to the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, fondly called JP by his close colleagues and friends, died on Monday night at the age of 49. The cause of his death was not disclosed.
“So very sad. He was one of our best,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a text message when asked to confirm Navera’s death.
Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento, head of the National Prosecution Service (NPS), also mourned the demise of the prosecutor. “Such a big loss given that he was an excellent litigator,” he said.
Former Supreme Court spokesman and now UP College of Law professor Theodore Te also paid tribute to Navera, saying he was always professional in the courtroom. “JP Navera was one of those who related to people as ‘walang masamang tinapay (no bad bread).’ He was always professional in the courtroom and, as one fortunate to know him outside the courtroom, one of the nicest and funniest persons working in that building along Padre Faura,” Te said.
Te was one of the defense counsels of the Magdalo soldiers whom Navera indicted for the coup d’ etat carried out by the group of former senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Navera’s immediate boss, Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, recalled the many cases they have handled together through the years.
“With the many cases we worked on together, it was like a Batman and Robin tandem. All told, his competence and brilliance are without question. Others who don’t know him may dismiss him as arrogant but I guess that’s just how he is to people who he doesn’t know,” Fadullon said.
“To me, he will always be my go-to guy, my ever reliable partner, and my Robin. We will miss him but what he has done and the lives he has touched will make his memory live in our hearts forever,” he added.
Navera has served as government prosecutor in several high-profile cases, such as the Magdalo coup d’etat and rebellion cases, the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case before Branch 221 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (where he was part of the first prosecution team), and the 2013 case against eight Coast Guard members indicted for shooting to death a Taiwanese fishermen off the coast of Batanes for which he was able to secure their conviction in September last year.
Navera secured the conviction last year of Palparan for the disappearance of UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.
He was also part of the panel that handled the case against police officers in the abduction and subsequent killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo, as well as the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation against PCSO board member Sandra Cam and several others in connection with the 2019 killing of Batuan, Masbate vice mayor Charlie Yuson III in Manila.
He was also part of the panel that handled the string of criminal cases against the so-called “ninja cops” led by Police Maj. Rodney Baloyo IV before the Pampanga RTC, as well as the murder of businessman Dominic Sytin inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
Navera also handled the case against a Mexican national who was found guilty by the Makati RTC in 2019 for drug trafficking as a member of the Sinaloa drug cartel.
At the time of his death, Navera was working on the killing of a mayor in Bohol by her husband, according to Fadullon.