CEBU CITY – Police have relieved several senior officials of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) and Police Station 2 to erase any suspicion or notion of cover-up in the investigation on the murder of Misamis Occidental’s Clarin Mayor David Navarro.
Brig. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, the regional police chief, said he relieved Maj. Eduard Sanchez as chief of Police Station 2 (Abellana Police Station) and chief of police Col. Gemma Vinluan. Sanchez and Vinluan were ordered to report directly to the Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit (RPHAU).
De Leon, however, said Vinluan and Sanchez should not be judged based on the decision relieving them of their respective posts while the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Central Visayas is investigating the killing, noting that it is just a matter of procedure.
“To be relieved (in their posts) is not a penalty, hindi ganun ang perception natin. It is just to pave way for impartial investigation,” he said.
De Leon invoked the principle of “command responsibility” in relieving Sanchez after Navarro was ambushed last month while in police custody on his way to the court. Sanchez was among five officers who escorted Navarro on October 25 when the mayor was gunned down while on board a patrol car along M. Velez Street.
Maj. Elisandro Quijano has been designated by De Leon as acting police station chief, while Sanchez is reporting to RPHAU based in Camp Sergio Osmeña Sr. here. “Major Quijano took his (Sanchez) place, (while he is) administratively relieved, para dun sa command responsibility,” De Leon said.
Duterte ordered police authorities to step aside and let the NBI do its investigation. Navarro, who was arrested by the police late last month for beating a masseur here, had been killed in an ambush on his way to the court despite having police security. The attack also wounded 2 policemen and two of Navarro’s security men.
The mayor was accused by Duterte as being involved in the illegal drug trade, an allegation he strongly denied when he was still alive.
The Department of Justice also confirmed that the NBI is now handling the murder case. “Given the circumstances surrounding the killing of Clarin Mayor Navarro, the President’s directive for the NBI to take over the investigation of the incident should quell any doubts regarding this government’s commitment to solve the case and bring to account those responsible,” DOJ spokesman Markk Perete said.
Duterte said he wants an impartial investigation into the killing of Navarro to ensure fairness. “It’s being investigated by the NBI. Mas gusto ko ang NBI na lang para walang, kasi nung nangyari ‘yan, may kasamang pulis eh. To make it really fair and I would like the police to terminate their investigation and hand it to the NBI, whatever documents and or proof or evidence that they have in their hands,” he said.
Local police said a criminal syndicate may have ordered the hit on Navarro. But extrajudicial killings are not uncommon in Cebu, and carried out by motorcycle gunmen with most of the victims were people with links or suspected of having links to the illegal drug trade. (Cebu Examiner)
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