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Duterte wants PNP out of probe into Misamis Occidental mayor's death

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Floating the possibility that the police may be involved in the death of Misamis Occidental town mayor David Navarro, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that they stop their probe into it and let the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) take over.

"Mas gusto ko NBI na lang para walang – kasi noong nangyari 'yan, kasama 'yung police," said Duterte on Monday, October 28, during an ambush interview in Malacañang. (I would rather the NBI do it so that there is no – because when it happened, the police were there.)

Navarro was killed while in police custody on Friday, October 25, in Cebu City. 

The police were about to bring Navarro to the city prosecutor's office for inquest proceedings arising from an assault complaint when the suspects in a van blocked the police convoy, ordered Navarro to get out of the police vehicle, then shot the mayor dead.

"Ano ang ginawa ng PNP? Baka sila ang pumatay. Well, anyway iniimbestiga pa," said Duterte. (What did the PNP do? Maybe they were the ones who killed him. Anyway, it's still being investigated.)

The suspicions aired by Duterte come as the Philippine National Police (PNP) reels from accusations that its personnel recycle drugs seized in operations for profit. This "ninja cop" controversy led to the resignation of former PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde and a massive revamp among the force's top officials.

Turnover of evidence. Duterte said that given the circumstances, keeping the police out of the probe would lessen doubts about the investigation.

"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 all proof and evidence they have in their hands," said the President.

Duterte also said he had previously met with Navarro, who he described as an "ally" despite being named in one of the government's list of alleged "narcopoliticians," or local government executives supposedly involved in the illegal drug trade.

Navarro supposedly told Duterte that "somebody was out to get him."

On Monday, the PNP said it respects the President's decision and will comply with his order.

“The PNP is ready to cooperate with the NBI to ensure impartial probe," it said in a statement.

Department of Justice spokesperson Markk Perete, meanwhile, said the directive for the NBI to take over the probe into the incident should "quell any doubts regarding this government's commitment to solve the case and bring to account those responsible."

Navarro is the 13th mayor to be killed under the Duterte administration. – with a report from Lian Buan/Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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