TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte — Mayor Reynaldo Navarro of Laak town, Compostela Valley Province was killed while his driver and two police escorts were wounded in a broad daylight ambush staged by six unidentified gunmen in Barangay Sagayen, Asuncion town, Davao del Norte at around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Navarro’s police escorts on board a separate back-up vehicle were able to shoot back, killing on the spot two of the assailants.
The mayor, who sustained multiple gunshot wounds, was brought to the Tagum Doctor’s Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.
Compostela Valley Police Provincial Chief Sr. Supt. Abraham Rojas said Navarro was on board a white Montero sport vehicle travelling to Davao City when upon reaching Purok 12 in Asuncion town, two motorcycles came up on their side and the riders with high-powered firearms attacked the mayor’s car.
Compostela Valley Gov. Arthur Uy strongly condemned the killing of Navarro, saying “the incident is a black eye to the province.”
Uy, in a text message, said he has ordered the provincial police to launch a massive manhunt operation against the killers and further investigate the motive of the killing.
However, Rojas said the police could not yet determine which group was responsible for the attack, although there were speculations the ambush was perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA).
Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commanding general of the 10th Infantry Division, immediately deployed troops from the 60th Infantry Battalion, which covers Laak municipality, to conduct hot pursuit operation on the fleeing other suspects.
Rojas said the incident is under investigation of the Asuncion Municipal Police Station, adding that Compostela Valley provincial police team and the Laak Municipal Police Station have established checkpoints at exit routes.
Newly-installed Regional Police Director Chief Supt. Wency Rosario has ordered the police to exert effort in tracking down the mayor’s assailants.
Rosario has commended the police escorts of Navarro in retaliating against the assailants, resulting in the death of two of the attackers.
Navarro, who was serving his last term as the mayor of Laak, was the National Executive Vice President for Operations in the League of the Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) and the LMP Provincial Chapter President of Compostela Valley Province. He was three times elected to the National Executive Committee and held the positions of Executive Vice President for External Affairs for 2007-2010 term; Executive Vice President for Operations for 2010-2013 and briefly served as LMP National President in 2012.
Laak and Asuncion are adjacent municipalities, although belonging to separate provinces. Laak is 83 kilometers away from the capital town of Nabunturan, Compostela Valley but more accessible from Tagum City which is just 39.48 kilometers away.
Laak shares boundaries with Monkayo, Compostela Valley, Veruela in Agusan del Sur and Talaingod, Davao del Norte, all municipalities which have areas known as hotbeds of the red fighters.