ILOILO City – A cousin of Councilor Plaridel Nava who claimed the signature campaign against Panay Electric Company submitted to Congress bore fake signatures was killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen yesterday in Barangay Calajunan, Mandurriao district.
The 66-year-old Mercedes “Ging-ging” Nava of Mejorada Street, Barangay Oñate De Leon, Mandurriao and 45-year-old Erwin Fontillas of Barangay Airport, Mandurriao were pronounced dead at the Western Visayas Medical Center.
The shooting took place around 12:01 p.m. Nava and Fontillas were ambushed just minutes after leaving GGH Junk Shop in Barangay Calajunan where they returned borrowed cases of soft drinks onboard a black Mitsubishi Strada pick-up.
Nava, former aide of Dr. Pacita Gonzalez who was the wife of the late Justice secretary and congressman Raul Gonzalez Sr., was driving the pick-up.
Nava hogged the headlines last month for claiming that the signature campaign against Panay Electric Company was littered with forgeries.
In 2012, she had a very public spat with cousin Councilor Nava.
According to witnesses, the gunmen were using a gray Yamaha Mio motorcycle; one was driving it while the back rider was the assassin.
The men were wearing black helmets and face masks, and black jackets. They fled toward Arevalo district after the shooting.
Nava had two other passengers in the pick-up – Samantha Denaga, 19, of Ledesco Village, Barangay San Pedro, La Paz district and a minor girl. Both were unharmed.
As of this writing, the Mandurriao police investigators were still at a loss as to the gunmen’s identities.
According to Chief Inspector Marlon Valencia, police chief of Mandurriao, they were not ruling out anything in the probe, even Nava’s well-known testy relationship with her councilor cousin.
He also said Nava may have business deals that went sour.
“Damo ni si Ging-ging kaso tungod sa utang, mga dalagko nga amount,” said Valencia.
Policemen were also not discounting the illegal drugs angle.
Scene of the Crime Operatives were able to recover from the crime scene seven empty bullet shells of a .45 pistol and five slugs, and a cellular phone inside Nava’s pick-up.
Last month, Nava and a group of persons claimed to have been tapped for a signature campaign against PECO.
“Unknown to the public, almost all of these signatures were fake and prepared overnight, and by only a handful of people,” read a part of Nava’s group’s manifesto.
Nava traced the anti-PECO campaign to Councilor Joshua Alim, a staunch critic of the sole power distributor in this city.
If Nava were to be believed, Alim initially sought to gather at least 300 signatures from 180 barangays and asked the help of Presidential Consultant for Western Visayas Jane Javellana.
Javellana, in turn, sought the help of Dr. Pacita Gonzalez’s daughter Dr. Marigold Gonzalez, through a certain Pingky Longno, said Nava.
According to the manifesto, two days prior to a hearing on PECO’s application for franchise renewal (no date was stated) in Congress, the group was tasked to gather signatures.
“Within the two-day timetable given to us, we could not realistically secure the required number of valid signatures; acting upon the direct and express instruction given to us…we prepared the signatures of fictitious persons to make it appear there were thousands,” part of the manifest to read.
The group claimed there were over 24,000 fictitious signatures and only around 3,500 were genuine.
Councilor Alim dismissed as baseless the manifesto’s allegation.
“It is not true nga fake (signatures),” he told Panay News.
Alim also said Nava had a personal conflict with the Gonzalezes.
Javellana, on the other hand, described Mercedez Nava’s claim as “indi salapakon” (not worth paying attention to).
“Paano ‘ya ma-quantify ang ginatawag nga fake kay isa man lang sya kag Mandurriao lang sya nga area. We are talking of the whole Iloilo City and 180 barangays,” said Javellana.
She also claimed, just like Alim, that Nava had a tiff with Gonzalez.
“Indi salapakon…gapangita lang sya sang media mileage ‘ya,” said Javellana./PN