Killing of anti-Peco bid critic: Councilor’s bodyguards arrested
ILOILO CITY — Two bodyguards of an Iloilo City councilor were arrested at the Iloilo City Hall on Monday for the killing of the councilor’s estranged first cousin who had accused him of orchestrating a fake signature campaign against the city’s electric distributor.
A team of Iloilo policemen, headed by Senior Supt. Martin Defensor, Iloilo City police chief, arrested one of the staff members of Councilor Plaridel Nava at his office on the sixth floor of City Hall, while the other was arrested at the lobby of the building.
Defensor said two witnesses had identified Nava’s bodyguards as involved in the killing of Mercedes Nava, the councilor’s cousin.
A motorcycle-riding gunman shot dead Mercedes and her companion, Erwin Fontillas, while she was driving a Mitsubishi Strada at Barangay Calajunan in Mandurriao District, last Friday morning.
Mercedes had accused her cousin, the councilor, of being among those behind the gathering of fake signatures against Panay Electric Co. (Peco).
The councilor, chair of the council’s committee on public utilities, was among the critics of Peco opposed to the renewal of its distribution franchise, which would expire on Jan. 19.
The councilor earlier
denied involvement, saying Mercedes had made many enemies in the past.
He said he was not capable of having his cousin killed.
Defensor said police confiscated three .45-caliber pistols and a hand grenade from brothers Roy-Roy and Tata delos Reyes when they were arrested.
He said witnesses had pointed to the brothers as the ones who were seen for two days near the house of Mercedes and who followed her vehicle prior to the killing.
Police will subject the guns, all unlicensed, to tests to determine whether these were the same weapons used in the attack.
Investigators recovered casings for .45-caliber bullets from the crime scene.
Nava decried the arrests as illegal and “part of a scheme to destroy and discredit” him.
“There were no arrest warrants, and the [shooting] happened three days ago. We could not consider this as hot pursuit operation,” he said.
The councilor, in an interview in his office, also refuted police claims that his bodyguards were armed.
“If they were armed, why were these not detected by metal detectors at the lobby?” Nava said.
Defensor said police would also investigate how the firearms and grenade were undetected at the building’s entrance.
Nava said he would exhaust all legal means to prove the innocence of his bodyguards.
He said he also planned to file charges against policemen.
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