WHAT WENT BEFORE: 3 priests killed in 6 months

Three priests have been slain over the past six months.

On Dec. 4, 2017, Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez, 72, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men while he was driving his vehicle in Jaen town, Nueva Ecija province. He died at the hospital in San Leonardo.

Paez, a retired priest who served in the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, for 32 years, had facilitated the release of a political detainee.

He was a coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon and had been a political activist since the martial law years under then President Ferdinand Marcos.

On April 29, 2018, Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura, 37, was gunned down after saying Mass in Gattaran town, Cagayan province.

Ventura was talking with choir members at Barangay Piña Weste gymnasium when two men riding on a motorcycle arrived. One of the men got off and, without removing his helmet, walked toward the group and shot the priest twice.

The militant group Karapatan linked Ventura’s killing to his human rights and antimining advocacies, though President Duterte nonchalantly linked his death to an illicit affair during a talk in Cebu on May 20, which drew flak from priests and on social media.

On June 10, Fr. Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan, 40, was shot by unidentified men at Nuestra Señora de la Nieve Chapel in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, according to the provincial police.

Nilo was behind the altar getting ready to start Mass when two unidentified men shot him through a window four times. —INQUIRER RESEARCH


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