Church workers and human rights defenders are alarmed over the reported killing of a Roman Catholic priest who was shot dead on Sunday, June 10 in a chapel in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.
Fr. Richmond Nilo was just about to start mass when he was gunned down by unidentified armed assailants, who, a CCTV footage revealed, have been tailing the priest on the way to the chapel.
“Even as authorities have yet to determine the motive behind this brutal killing, it is clear that the culture of impunity that this present administration is perpetuating will hardly bring us closer to justice,” said Fr. Jonash Joyohoy, executive director of the Ramento Project for Rights Defenders (RPRD).
The RPRD is the human rights advocacy arm of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
Fr. Nilo is the fourth clergy killed under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Despite this, police authorities continue to claim that these are “isolated” incidents.
On December 3, 2017, Pastor Lablito Quiñonez of the Guardians of the Truth Church Mission International, Inc. was killed in Mindoro by elements believed to be from the AFP who accused him as a member of the New People’s Army.
As of this writing, Fr. Joyohoy said authorities have also yet to shed light on the killing of two other members of the Roman Catholic clergy – Fr. Marcelito Paez and Fr. Mark Ventura who were killed on December 5, 2017 and April 29, 2018, respectively. Both priests are known for their advocacies for the environment and human rights.
“Authorities cannot just turn a blind eye to this grave injustice. We demand an independent probe not just for Fr. Nilo’s killings but to scores who have suffered the same. The killings must stop,” Fr. Joyohoy said.