Palace vows justice for 3 slain priests

Malacañang on Wednesday joined Roman Catholic bishops and the faithful in condemning the murder of Fr. Mark Ventura, Fr. Tito Paez and Fr. Richmond Nilo.

Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. said government authorities, led by the Philippine National Police (PNP), have mounted investigations into the crimes and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The PNP shall also be working closely with the Church, especially the hierarchy and the clergy, on measures to protect our priests,” Roque said in a news statement.

Nilo was shot dead in a Nueva Ecija chapel, Paez was killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, while  Ventura was also killed by riding-in-tandem assailants in Cagayan province.

On Tuesday Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and other leaders of the archdiocese declared June 18 as a “Day of Reparation” to mark the ninth day  Nilo was killed as he was about to celebrate Mass on June 10. The murder of the three priests happened in a span of less than seven months.

Roque said President Duterte himself has ordered an intensified campaign against criminality “to further expand the significant strides we made in the peace and order situation in the country, as acknowledged by various reports.”

“In this nationwide drive, lawless elements will seek to block our efforts by sowing division and creating animosity, even exploiting crimes like the killings of priests,” Roque said.

He called on everyone to stand united against purveyors of crime and together advance peace and security of the nation and the Church.


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