Samar judge shot dead
- Miriam Garcia Desacada () - January 16, 2008 - 12:00am

TACLOBAN CITY — An unidentified gunman shot dead a 69-year-old judge of the Calbayog City Regional Trial Court (RTC) last Monday night in Calbayog City.

Judge Roberto Navidad of RTC branch 32 died on the spot after the lone suspect shot him and fled.

Eastern Visayas police director Chief Superintendent Abner Cabal-quinto said Navidad had just bought medicine from a drugstore at the corner of Rosales Boulevard and Gomez Street near Nijaga Park in Barangay Central.

He had just boarded his black Nissan Patrol with license plate TPL-911 and was about to start the vehicle’s engine when the gunman, who was wearing a black jacket and cap, shot the judge at around 7:10 p.m.

Witnesses told police investigators that the suspect ran and escaped to nearby Barangay Balud, also in Calbayog.

General Cabalquinto told The STAR that he has created Task Force Navidad, headed by Senior Superintendent Arcadio Lelis, deputy regional director for operations, even as the Calbayog police had launched a manhunt for the suspect.

Chief Inspector Nestor Rivera said investigators are looking at various angles for the killing, including political or personal grudge, the cases being handled by the judge and other work-related motives.

“We are looking at all of these possible angles. But as of now we are still facing a blank wall in our investigation and we need the cooperation of the witnesses to solve this crime,” Rivera said.

The STAR published last Jan. 5 a report of Newsbreak Online that disclosed the growing threats against local judges who have been forced to arm themselves because they cannot afford to hire bodyguards.

The Newsbreak report said that several judges have been killed nationwide in the past years.

Judge Salvador Apurillo of the Calbayog RTC branch 8 expressed alarm over the latest killing of a judge.

“This is so alarming not only for the judges in Eastern Visayas but for the entire judiciary of the country, although this is not new to us, because Judge Navidad, if I am not mistaken, was the 8th RTC judge to have been killed in the country in the past several years, and all of those cases remain unsolved. I hope Judge Navidad’s killing will be resolved immediately,” Apurillo said.

The Supreme Court plans to train judges to use firearms but the government cannot implement the program due to budget constraints.

Navidad was supposed to retire this year. He served as acting judge of the Calbayog City RTC branch 7 and 9 before he was appointed judge of the RTC branch 32 in Calbayog City 11 years ago.

Navidad, a native of General MacArthur, Eastern Samar, was the second presiding judge to have been killed in the region after Judge Reynaldo Lorenzo of the Borongan City RTC was killed 10 years ago inside the Catholic cemetery in Borongan.

National Bureau of Investigation Director Nestor Mantaring yesterday said they would join the Philippine National Police in finding the gunman and mastermind in the killing of Navidad.

Mantaring said that two NBI agents from Manila were sent to Calbayog to assist the local bureau agents in the region.

Investigators said the judge was apparently killed by a hired assassin.

Cabalquinto said that prior to the incident, the local police had been securing at least two judges in the province, who had asked for security assistance after receiving death threats.

He said Navidad was not one of the judges who sought police protection and the police are not aware if the victim had received any death threats.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno condemned the killing of Navidad.

“The entire judiciary condemns the killing of Judge Navidad. I am urging authorities to exert their best efforts for the immediate apprehension of those responsible for Navidad’s death,” he added. - With Evelyn Macairan, Mike Frialde

 

CALBAYOG CALBAYOG CITY CITY JUDGE JUDGE NAVIDAD NAVIDAD PLACE
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