NPA: We didn't kill mayor
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A day after Laak town mayor Reynaldo Navarro was killed in an ambush, the New People's Army (NPA) denounced the incident and stressed it was not behind the killing.
"The New People's Army Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command condemns the killing of Mayor Reynaldo Navarro and offers condolences [to] his family and colleagues in Laak, Compostela Valley," said Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesman of the NPA-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command.
Navarro was declared dead on arrival after his convoy was shot by still-unknown assailants in Asuncion town in Davao del Norte on Wednesday, May 28. Two of his escorts, his driver and 2 civilians were hurt in the ambush.
The military said 2 of the suspects were also killed in the firefight that ensued.
The NPA earlier accused Navarro of being one of the leaders of the "Big 4 logging lords" in the region and warned him and his accomplices to stop their operations.
"While Navarro was part of the Big 4 in Agusan-Comval-Davao del Norte forests, the NPA has not considered him an enemy that warrants a standing order or ... a death sentence. Navarro’s track record did not make him a legitimate military target, thus, no revolutionary punishment was executed against him," Sanchez said.
Sanchez noted that Navarro even "cooperated" with the revolutionary movement in several instances.
"As a longtime politician whose area covers territories of the People’s Democratic Government in Compostela Valley, Navarro has cooperated with comrades and in many ways have demonstrated actions that point to his recognition of the revolutionary cause," Sanchez said.
Sanchez explained that despite Navarro's alleged involvement in logging and militarization, the rebel group had no reason to impose capital punishment on him.
"In the last few years, however, his business interest in logging and agribusiness expansion has increased. Comrades have repeatedly warned him of his increasing anti-people activities. Navarro had merely ignored these warnings, thus, forcing the NPA Comval-North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional Command to caution him publicly against wanton logging, militarization and the attendant 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," he said.
"In accusing the NPA of Navarro’s ambush, the 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command-AFP shows that it is poised to agitate and conscript Navarro’s Lumad supporters and followers to become its new lackeys and bandits under the Oplan Bayanihan counterrevolutionary campaign. The masses in Laak should see to this latest anti-people machination and must struggle against fascism," Sanchez added.
The NPA has been waging Asia's longest-running communist rebelliion. Compostela Valley and the Davao provinces remain to their bailiwick.
The military has vowed to crush the insurgency before President Benigno Aquino III ends his term in 2016. - Rappler.com