MANILA – “Outrageously evil” was how the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines described the killing of a priest in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.
The CBCP appealed to the police to speed up the investigation and catch the suspects as soon as they can.
Two men shot Reverend Father Richmond Nilo with pistols as he prepared to celebrate Mass at the altar of a chapel Sunday night.
The gunmen, who fired through a chapel window, fled on board a motorcycle. Police were hunting them.
Nilo was the third Catholic priest to be killed in the Philippines in recent months, the CBCP said – his killing left a pool of blood below the statue of the Virgin Mary.
“We are deeply saddened and terribly disturbed that another priest is brutally killed,” said the CBCP head, Archbishop Romulo Valles.
“We make our appeal once again to the police authorities to act swiftly in the investigation and to go after the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice,” Valles added.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration condemned the killing.
The Philippine National Police created a special force to investigate the attack, determine the motive, and identify and capture those responsible.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan condemned the killing of Nilo. He pointed out that the priest was the third to be killed “in the past six months.”
“Noong Disyembre, pinagbabaril si Father Marcelito (Paez) ilang oras matapos tulungang mapalaya ang isang political prisoner sa Jaen, Nueva Ecija,” he said. “Nitong Abril naman, pinatay rin si Father Mark Ventura habang nagmimisa sa Gattaran, Cagayan.”
Pangilinan urged authorities to catch Nilo’s killers as he questioned the “worsening” peace and order situation.
“Nasaan ang ipinangakong peace and order? Nasaan ang kaayusan? Nasaan ang katarungan?” he said.
“Bakit parang may pattern ng pagpatay sa mga tumutulong sa mga mahihirap, na siyang unang naging target ng mga patayan? Bakit parang lumalala ang problema ng panlipunang kapayapaan?” he added. (The Associated Press and Prince Golez/PN)