OPINION: Remembering Laak Mayor Rey Navarro;  Well done, Mayor Reynav! Be thou at peace!

By Cha Monforte

Long-walking provincial mediamen in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley just call him Reynav. It’s just for among us in the way we shorten politicians’ names when we talk about them no-holds-barred. But in final print and professional broadcast, we call them with their exalted positions due to the mandate given by the people.

Laak Mayor Reynaldo Navarro was killed Wednesday morning in an ambush staged by 5-6 assailants, 2 of whom were killed by the return fire made by the mayor’s bodyguards. Mayor Reynav died while his driver and two of bodyguards sustained gunshot wounds. The mayor was 62 years old and has a long stint of rendering public service.

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I browsed my online stories about the mayor to remember him, some bits of his life and times. I haven’t seen him for about two years now. The last time our paths crossed was in Tagum City. He was president of the Comval mayors’ league at that time.

I interviewed him for several times when he was serving as Comval vice governor, as liga ng mga barangay president hence an ex-officio board member, and the last, as the Laak mayor. In 2010 he was elected the national vice president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.

Laak, an outback, remotely interior town of Comval, has been Mayor Reynav’s turf.  His last term is in the 2nd round of his serving as a mayor of Laak. He led the town beginning at the cradle of its townhood. It was he who led for the change of the name of San Vicente to Laak. The town’s first name was hastily chosen, and so he petitioned for a holding of a plebiscite to rename the town to what has been called by Laakenos since a long time ago. That was 1994. And he was young mayor then – at 42.

While browsing his stories online, what first struck me was his succinct words for late Cong. and Gov. Pros Amatong: “In politics he was a legend, a real champion who has never tasted defeat. He was proud of his achievements yet he remained humble and accessible to friends and foes alike. To us his political students, he was a genuine, larger-than-life guru. We will forever miss him.” He texted those to me while I was writing on the passing of Comval and Davnor legendary leader in 2009.

Mayor Reynav is a great writer unrevealed- and as known by everybody- an excellent orator-speaker, two qualities that qualify him to become a good congressman. When he speaks onstage he puts his audience in awe with his crisp, his glib, flowing delivery, his articulate expression. He has sartorial elegance and legal acumen that I falsely thought he was a barrister. What has seared in the minds of Tagum and Davao City mediamen is that Mayor Reynav is a great media supporter and patron, he being once a media engaged as columnist using a nom de plume in the 80s.

Mayor Reynav is the acknowledged most seasoned politician in Comval. He is a portrait of a politician versatile- par excellence. He is an enduring politician who has not become political has-been while the rest of his colleagues, save the rare one or two, have been on indefinite political furlough after trying for comeback for several times. Mayor Reynav has only a short political furlough. After failing his vice gubernatorial comeback bid in tandem with Trino Tirol against Gov. Joecab Caballero in 2004 polls, he maneuvered to become a punong barangay of smallest Bullokan village, and from there, he sprang a surprise by being elected as the provincial Liga president, hence sit again in the provincial board.

He died without seeing the light of the pet project he wanted realized- a new municipality carved out from the big-territory Laak. It’s named Municipality of Lorenzo S. Sarmiento to be composed of 8 of the 40 barangays of Laak. The measure was just read by a congressional committee early this month of May. The townname is in honor to the mayor’s first political boss – ex- Cong. Don Lorenzo “Enchong” Sarmiento.

When the news of his death burst Wednesday morning, May 28, questions crossed in my mind about a political hot button being pressed on by sinister forces or a scenario of priming him up to become a collateral damage in the ongoing internecine strife in the country? The New People’s Army on the next day denied it has the hand in the killing, and stated in its e-mailed press statement that the mayor had helped their revolutionary cause for sometime in the past and had only warned the mayor “to stop his illegal logging activities.”

If waves of adversity besiege Laak now and a deep sense of loss has been felt by the Laakenos, in the wake of the ambush that has messed up everybody in Comval and Davao del Norte, it is because Mayor Reynav has met, touched and befriended many people in the provinces. The Laak town hall officials and personnel saw no abuse, no sin committed by their mayor.  He’s a mayor they all love as they credit most of Laak’s developments to him. I feel, too, a loss in this Laakenos’ tragedy for he was a kindred spirit.

We will miss Mayor Reynav of Laak- his ceaseless energy, his wit, his far-reaching intellect, his crisp and eloquent oratory, and we will miss that infectious grin and laughter of him. Well done, Mayor Reynav! Be thou at peace! (views of Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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