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ComVal Town Mayor Dead, NPA Behind the Ambush?

The 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has confirmed the death of Mayor Reynaldo Navarro of Laak, Compostela Valley who was ambushed by unidentified gunmen wearing bonnets on May 28 in Davao del Norte.

Navarro was on his way to Davao City when armed men ambushed his convoy at about 9 a.m. at Barangay Sagayen in the town of Asuncion, spokesman Captain Ernest Carolina of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division said in an Inquirer report.

Navarro was declared dead on arrival at Tagum Doctors Hospital.

Navarro, a Legitimate NPA Target?

Navarro is serving his third and last term as town mayor of Laak, Compostela Valley. He is also the National Executive Vice President for Operations of the League of the Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP). Despite alleged ties with a rebel priest, Navarro has been known to oppose the CPP-NPA-NDF. Hence, the military is not discounting the possibility that the ambuscade was orchestrated by the rebel group.

Navarro was accused by the rebel group to be among the “Big Four Logging Lords” in Southern Philippines. The NPA posted a clip on its website allegedly showing “rampant illegal logging” operations in Brgy. Ampawid and Brgy. Andap. Such an allegation was downplayed by the mayor claiming that the town was merely a “transit point” of illegal logging activities in Agusan del Sur.

Less than a week before the ambush, the NPA has tagged Navarro as a “legitimate target.” “For as long as local reactionaries like Navarro continue to make big business out of the remaining forest resources, the NPA will impose measures to protect the environment and peasants, Lumads and masses who suffer from the effects of rampant logging. Fascist troops who continue to violate human rights of peasants while plundering the forests are legitimate targets,” Aris Francisco, spokesperson of the NPA ComVal-North Davao-South Agusan Sub-regional Command, said in a statement posted on the rebel group’s website.