ZAMBOANGA CITY: A mayor of Laak town in Compostela Valley accused by communist rebels as behind illegal logging activities was killed by armed men in an ambush on Wednesday in Davao del Norte.
Mayor Reynaldo Navarro was travelling with his group when gunmen attacked them around 8:30 a.m. in Purok 9, Barangay Sagayen in Asuncion town.
Lt. Col. Normal Zuniega, chief of the civil-military office of the 10th Infantry Division of Eastern Mindanao Command, said two of the armed men were also killed when they engaged in a firefight with the escort of Navarro.
Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said soldiers from the 60th Infantry Battalion were sent to the area to help the local police force in tracking down the suspects.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell heavily on the New People’s Army (NPA) which previously threatened the politician – along with two other active police officers and a retired policeman – for his alleged involvement in illegal logging activities in Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte.
Navarro has belied the allegation.
“We take note of this, but we still do not know whether or not the communist movement is involved,” said Zuniega.
In a statement, the NPA said “Thus, in the face of brazen abuse of power and wanton disregard of the environmental preservation, the NPA perseveres in imposing its total log ban campaign and carrying out punitive sanctions against the Armed Forces and the big logging lords.”
“To protect the remaining forest covers, campaign for reforestation, stop abusive large-scale logging, and secure the livelihood of the masses through sustainable communal farming, the NPA Sub-regional Command strongly enforces its total log ban policy,” said Aris Francisco, a rebel spokesman.