AT THE end of the day, family will always be family.
This was the statement of Iloilo City Councilor Plaridel Nava amid insinuations that he had a hand in the assassination of his cousin, 66-year-old Mercedes Ging-Ging Nava last week.
Nava, who was on vacation in Bagkok, Thailand when the killing happened Jan. 4, 2019, said he could not order the death of a family member despite their past differences.
After all, shes a Nava, and shes still a family to me, he said.
The fathers of Councilor Nava and Mercedes are brothers.
The councilor, who arrived in Iloilo City early morning of Jan 5, said he became a convenient scapegoat because of his public riff with his slain cousin.
I have no motive. I cant go that far. I dont have the capacity, he said.
Even if he has the capacity, Nava said he would not order a hit on a relative.
I always put in my mind that shes a family. I cant justify that to the whole Nava clan if I planned something like that to her, he said.
Nava, who is ending his three-term as a councilor and is running for Iloilo City vice-mayor, said he could not do something stupid like plotting an assassination that would attract bad publicity.
Navas alleged involvement in the motorcycle-riding killing that claimed the lives of Nava and her friend, Erwin Fontillas, came to fore after her (Mercedes) sister claimed that Mercedes had no known enemies except their cousin who is a councilor.
Thats a reckless statement. Why? I couldnt even remember that we had a confrontation, Nava said.
HOW THE RIFF STARTED
Councilor Nava and Mercedes had been close allies aside from being relatives.
He was Mercedes legal counsel until 2012 when members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 6 (PDEA-6) conducted a search and seizure operation on her house in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
The subject of the anti-illegal drug operation was Mercedes son.
Mercedes allegedly called him up early morning.
While Nava claimed hes against illegal drugs, he went to Mercedes house.
As her cousin, I wanted to make sure that her rights are being protected, he said.
He allegedly talked with then PDEA-6 regional director Paul Ledesma and assistant regional director Atty. Ronnie Delicana as to the subject and the extent of the search operation.
Eventually, some items were seized from Mercedes abode.
She wanted me to file a counter-charge against director Ledesma and Atty. Delicana but I declined, Nava said.
He allegedly told Mercedes that the two PDEA officials were just doing their job.
Nava said he also had nothing against Delicana, his classmate at the Law school.
This started the rift between the cousins.
Later of that year, a grenade was lobbed at Bali Hotel owned by businessman Rommel Ynion.
Mercedes came out as a whistle blower and accused Councilor Nava and former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog as the masterminds of the blast.
A case was filed but it was eventually dismissed.
If I had plans against her, I should have done it years ago, Nava said.
On Dec. 12, 2018, Mercedes again dropped what she considered a bombshell.
Mercedes claimed in a radio interview that Dr. Marigold Gonzales, daughter of Pacita Gonzalez, Councilors Joshua Alim and Plaridel Nava and Presidential Consultant for Western Visayas Jane Javellana ordered them to gather forged signatures affixed to the manifesto opposing the franchise renewal of Panay Electric Co, the sole power distributor in Iloilo City.
According to their manifesto, almost all of the 27,000 signatures presented by Alim and Nava to the Senate and the House of Representatives were forgeries.
Unknown to the public, almost all of these signatures were fake and were prepared overnight, and by only a handful of people. Only around 3,500 signatures by the team of Councilor Alim, Councilor Nava and Javellana after a month or two of gathering signatures, read part of the manifesto.
The group then sought the help of Dr. Gonzales where she gave her staff two days to gather more than 20, 000 signatures.
Acting upon the direct and express instructions given to us by their group and Dr. Gonzalez, we prepared the signatures of fictitious persons to make it appear that there were thousands of persons who joined their cause. After affixing about 24, 000 plus fictitious signatures, we then submitted the documents to the office of Councilor Alim and the signatures now totaled more than 27,000, the manifesto added.
But for Councilor Nava, Mercedes expose was only meant to discredit their No to PECO campaign.
Indi salapakon (Not worth our while). Just because of that, ipapatay ko gid sya (I will have her killed)? Thats very petty. If I dont dignify her statements at all, the more that I wouldnt lift a finger to have her killed, he said.
Nava said that Mercedes statement was not a cause for worry for their election campaign.
HUNT FOR TRUE KILLERS
Instead of the police focusing on his alleged involvement, Nava said investigators should devote their time on hunting Mercedes real killers.
I hope that police will investigate further whoever instigated or orchestrated her to come out and make such accusations on fake signatures, he said.
Nava added, to my mind, this a grand design grand scheme that she was used. This is highly-financed and that she could be later killed to discredit us, he said.
Again, Nava said he is not that stupid to order his cousins murder.
I dont mind her at all. I totally ignored, he said.
Councilor Nava had also disagreed with Mercedes sister claim that the victim had no other enemies.
I beg to disagree that I am her only known enemy. I encourage her siblings not to close their doors to other angles, he said.
Nava also mentioned that someone took down Mercedes Facebook account.
Her Facebook timeline, he said, would reveal whom she has lambasted earlier.
If they want justice, activate her Facebook account so that police will have an idea whom she had attacked below the belt, Nava said.
The police earlier said they are looking into the bouncing checks and estafa cases filed against Mercedes.
Also, Marigold Gonzalez (daughter of the late justice secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr.) and Javellana allegedly filed a libel case against Mercedes in Metro Manila relative to the PECO issue.
Mercedes Nava, a resident of Mejorada Street, Barangay Oñate-de Leon, Mandurriao; and the 42-year old year Fontillas of Barangay Airport, Mandurriao were gunned down in a narrow road at Barangay Calajunan, Mandurriao, Iloilo City around 11:42 a.m. Friday.
The group of four was on board a Mitsubishi Strada pick-up with Nava behind the wheels and Fontillas on the front passenger seat.
Witnesses said the victims were in the area to return empty cases of softdrinks and chairs they borrowed from Mercedes friend. The items were used during the Christmas party of LGBTQ group JS Amazing Organization a few days ago.
Mercedes was allegedly executing a U-turn when two motorcycle-riding men flagged her down.
The back rider alighted from the bike, went near the drivers side, and started firing a handgun.
Fontillas was hit as he was seated right beside Mercedes.
The motorcycle-riding suspects (MRS) immediately fled while the two victims were brought to the nearby Western Visayas Medical Center. Both were declared dead on arrival.