A militant lawmaker said the “country’s state of impunity has gone berserk” following the killing of Fr. Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan by still unidentified gunmen in the Nuestra Señora de la Nieve Chapel in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija on Sunday.
The 40-year-old parish priest of Zaragoza was behind the altar getting ready to start Mass at around 6:05 p.m. when two unidentified men shot him through a window four times.
“These ruthless assassins have gone berserk, sparing no one, not even churchpeople. This state of impunity is now really wrecking havoc in our communities,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a statement on Monday.
Nilo is the third priest to be murdered in six months after the April 29 attack against 37-year-old Fr. Mark Ventura in Cagayan; and the December 5, 2017 ambush of 72-year-old Fr. Marcelito Paez at Jaen town also in Nueva Ecija.
Zarate believes that Paez, a known peace advocate and is pushing for the resumption of the peace talks, and Ventura, an anti-mining activist, were “killed for openly acting on their convictions.”
“Impunity spares no one now, where among the targets include activists, mass leaders, journalists and church-people,” the opposition lawmaker said.
Zarate cited data from human rights group Karapatan, which documented 126 cases of extrajudicial killings from July 2016 to December 31, 2017 alone, with victims coming from the ranks of peasants, indigenous peoples, Moro, workers, women, and youth.
Karapatan also said some 20,322 persons, including minors, were killed in the government’s brutal anti-drug campaign. /kga
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