ILOILO City – Policemen arrested two security aides of Councilor Plaridel Nava on the third day of a hot pursuit operation following the assassination of the councilor’s cousin Mercedes Nava in Barangay Calajunan, Mandurriao district Friday last week.
Roy Delos Reyes, 42, of Barangay West Timawa, Molo district and brother Rey Julius, 34, were apprehended around 12:06 p.m. yesterday at Nava’s office at city hall. They were job hires.
Police recovered from Rey Julius two .45 pistols with bullets, a hand grenade, P12,000 cash and a black holster. Roy, on the other hand, yielded a .45 pistol with bullets and P1,770 cash.
Two witnesses positively identified the Delos Reyeses, according to Chief Inspector Marlon Valencia, police chief of Mandurriao.
Mercedes, 66, was shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen around 12:42 p.m. in Barangay Calajunan.
One of the witnesses tagged Rey Julius as the one who fired at Mercedes and Roy as the one driving a motorcycle, said Valencia.
The other witness claimed having seen the brothers near the crime scene prior to the shooting.
“For security reasons we are withholding the identities of these witnesses,” said Valencia.
With Valencia and his men arresting the brothers were Senior Superintendent Martin Defensor, city police director, and Superintendent Jonathan Pablito, chief of Police Station 1.
According to Pablito, the recovered guns would undergo ballistic examination for cross-matching with the spent bullet shells recovered from the spot were Mercedes was shot.
“We have to examine the three guns to know if any of them was used on the victim,” said Pablito.
He also said the Delos Reyes brothers admitted that the guns were not licensed.
The brothers did not issue statements but their mother Sarah insisted on her sons’ innocence.
At the time Mercedes was killed, she said, her sons were in their house.
Sarah challenged the police to show proof against her sons “kun sila gid man. Basta wala sila ‘ya nakahimo.”
Her sons were detained at the Mandurriao police station.
The arrests were carried out two days after Councilor Nava denied on Saturday having anything to do with the assassination of his estranged cousin Mercedes.
“That is something I cannot do because indi na ‘ya aton character,” he stressed, although he acknowledged having a testy relationship with his cousin since 2012.
“Kon ako may plano nga patyon sia, indi subong nga election period nga makaapekto sa akon kon ako ang pasibangdan,” Nava told Panay News in an interview.
Nava is running for vice mayor in the May 13, 2019 midterm elections. He urged the police to explore all possible angles in Mercedes’ murder.
Last month, Mercedes claimed that the signature campaign against Panay Electric Company was littered with forgeries. She said she and a group of persons were tapped for the campaign.
Nava, a vocal critic of PECO, said the police should endeavor to trace who backed his cousin up into making the allegation.
“Who instigated or financed her? I believe these are the very same people who had her killed then planned to have me as the fall guy. Ina nga anggulo dapat tan-awon sang pulis,” said Nava.
In 2012, the Navas had a very public feud. Mercedes accused the councilor of having a mistress and a child out of wedlock.
In the 2013 election, Mercedes also campaigned against her cousin.
Despite these, according to the Nava, he never entertained the thought of harming Mercedes.
“Ti, after sang 2013 election daw wala man sang problema. Daw sulhay man pangabuhi ‘ya for the past six years. Wala man kami nagkomprontahanay. Bisan dulonggan wala ko sia napitik,” said Nava.
To solve the crime, the councilor said the police must also look into Mercedes’ background.
She faced many court cases such as estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa 22 (issuing bouncing checks), said Nava./PN