Who was David Navarro, the mayor from Mindanao killed in Cebu City?

Ryan Macasero

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Who was David Navarro, the mayor from Mindanao killed in Cebu City?
While Navarro appears on narcolists released by Duterte 2 times, he denied being linked to the drug trade

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Mayor David Navarro of Clarin, Misamis Occidental, was practically unknown in this city before he figured in an alleged assault of a massage therapist in a hotel on October 24. A day later, he was shot dead. (READ: Misamis Occidental town mayor arrested for alleged assault in Cebu)

On Friday, October 25, Navarro was brutally killed on a busy street in broad daylight, right outside the Office of the Ombudsman. (READ: Misamis Occidental town mayor shot dead in Cebu City)

Who was David Navarro? 

Navarro began his 3rd term as mayor of Clarin town last May.

In the last midterm election, Navarro, a member of the Nacionalista Party got twice as many votes as his opponent Marissa Villa, who ran under PDP-Laban.

He previously served 3 terms as mayor from 2001 to 2010 and was a provincial board member of Misamis Occidental’s 2nd District until he could run again for mayor in 2013. 

The Navarros are originally from Pagadian City, Zamboanga Del Sur, and only solidified their place as a political dynasty through David’s efforts, after he won as mayor of Clarin for the first time in 2001. His wife and siblings were then able to win various political positions in Misamis Occidental.

The Navarros are known allies of the Oaminals, another powerful political clan in Misamis Occidental.

In early October, Navarro’s brother Dan was appointed regional director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) of Region IX (the Zamboanga Peninsula).

Clarin, a 4th class municipality, is about 30 minutes away from Ozamiz City, where several members of the Parojinog dynasty – another drug-linked political clan – were killed during a police raid in 2017.

Then mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr and 14 others, including family members, were killed in that operation  

Drug links?

Navarro was among the alleged narco-politicians in the March 2019 list that President Rodrigo Duterte released to the public ahead of the May elections as a way to dissuade voters from reelecting those on the list. At least 27 of 36 bets on the same list won in the polls. (READ: Ineffective? 27 of 36 bets in Duterte drug list win in 2019 polls)

He was also part of a longer earlier list released in 2016 by the President. 

Following the inclusion of his name in the initial narcolist, Navarro surrendered at least 4 firearms to the Philippine National Police, according to a report in SunStar.

In 2017, the National Police Commission (Napolcom) stripped Navarro’s supervisory powers over his police force for his alleged links to the drug trade.

Navarro told local media in Mindanao in October that he had already spoken to the President in person over accusations linking him to the illegal drug trade.

“If the President had doubts on our family, there’s no reason why the administration would hire one of our own,” Navarro was quoted in state-run Philippine News Agency. He was referring to Duterte confirming the appointment of his brother Dan to TESDA.

When Rappler asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) for a list of pending cases against Navarro, the only cases provided by DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete were those related to the spa incident on October 24.

Those charges include acts of lasciviousness for allegedly sexually abusing a female masseuse; physical injury charges for allegedly assaulting a male masseuse; and usurpation of authority for introducing himself as a police officer.

Why was he in Cebu City?

According to Cebu City Police Office Director Gemma Cruz Vinluan, Navarro was in Cebu City for a meeting on economic development plans at the Rajah Park Hotel with leaders from Misamis Occidental.

The police director noted that local police were not informed by Navarro, nor his police escort, that a meeting was taking place with Misamis Occidental political and economic leaders in this city.

The spa where the alleged assault took place is also located at the Rajah Park Hotel. Police officials said they would also ask the hotel management for CCTV footage and names of others who were in Cebu for the meeting.

Why was he killed?

Vinluan told reporters over the weekend that associates of Navarro told investigators that he had already been receiving death threats, specifically from “groups from Misamis.” (READ: Slain Misamis Occidental town mayor got death threats – Cebu police)

She did not elaborate if those threats were related to drugs or politics.

Although police declined to give a definite motive for the slaying, Vinluan said that it was “definitely” not related to the spa incident. They also would not automatically conclude that the killings were linked to Navarro’s alleged ties to the drug trade.

“Let’s not directly relate the killing to that, we’re looking at all angles, including business and political rivalry,” Vinluan said.

Navarro’s sister Princess, who was with the mayor when he was killed, mentioned in an interview with reporters that Navarro had political rivals in Clarin who could have been behind the killing. – with a report from Lian Buan/Rappler.com

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Nobuhiko Matsunaka


Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at ryan.macasero@rappler.com