By Jocelyn Montemayor and Raymond Africa
PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday ordered the PNP to cease its investigation on the death of Misamis Occidental Mayor David Navarro last Friday in Cebu and turn over the probe to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
In a chance interview after the oath taking of newly-appointed government officials in Malacanang, Duterte said that since Navarro died while in the custody of the police, it would be best to let another body do the investigation.
Duterte added he is not accusing the police of involvement but wants the NBI to do the probe to avoid any suspicion of irregularity.
“The PNP respects the decision of the President and will comply with his order.
The PNP is ready to cooperate with the NBI to ensure (an) impartial probe,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said.
Navarro, 50, who is included in Duterte’s narcolist released two months ahead of the May 2019 elections, arrived in Cebu City Tuesday last week for a meeting of business leaders.
He was arrested two days later after he reportedly mauled a male therapist and allegedly asked sexual favors from a female spa attendant.
He was being escorted by cops to the Prosecutors’ Office when a van with 10 armed men aboard blocked the patrol car he was riding along M. Velez St. and, at gunpoint, pulled him out of the vehicle and fired at him, killing him instantly.
Two policemen escorting Navarro were hurt in the incident.
“Mas gusto ko NBI na lang para walang… kasi noong nangyari iyan, kasama iyung pulis. To make it really fair, I’d like to order the police to terminate their investigations and hand it to the NBI, whatever documents and/or proof or evidence they have (I want the NBI so there will be no… because when it happened he was with the police),” Duterte said.
Duterte said he wants to find out what the police did during the incident or if some of them are involved.
“Ano ang ginawa ng PNP? Baka sila ang pumatay. Well, anyway iniimbestiga pa (What did the PNP do? Maybe they were the ones who killed him. Well, anyway, it’s still being investigated),” the President said.
At least 12 mayors and seven vice mayors with suspected links to illegal drugs have been killed since the Duterte administration took over in July 2016.
Duterte said he had previously talked to Navarro, who was included in the government’s list of alleged “narcopoliticians.” He said Navarro, whom he described as a supporter, told him that “somebody was out to get him.”
Earlier yesterday, PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa ordered an investigation into the possible links of Navarro to a robbery group based in Ozamiz City in the wake of reports that Navarro and a certain Dante Navarro are the same person who leads the Alferez robber group.
The report quoted the National Capital Region Police Office as the source of the story that was sent to the Cebu Police Provincial Office. The report did not mention the NCRPO’s source of information.
Gamboa also said he had ordered the SITG to investigate why the policemen escorting Navarro to the Prosecutors’ Office were not able to immediately react when armed men blocked their vehicle.
The Police Regional Office 7 (Central Visayas) had created a special investigation task group to speed up the resolution of case.
Reports said Navarro was aboard a police vehicle, the second vehicle in a convoy of three, travelling when the incident happened. The lead vehicle, also a police car, carried a handful of Cebu City cops while the last vehicle carried Navarro’s family.
Brig. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, the regional police director, said the incident happened too fast, the reason why the mayor’s police escorts were not able to react properly. De Leon added the armed men trained their guns at the police escorts.