MANILA - Are the recent killings of 3 Catholic priests part of a "pattern" targeting critics of violence and human rights violations?
Sen. Risa Hontiveros posed this question on Wednesday as she called for a Senate inquiry into the slays of priests in the last 6 months.
"Ito bang sa pagpatay sa tatlong paring Katoliko ay pattern na talaga, tina-target ang mga taong-Simbahan na nagpupuna, dinadagdag ang kanilang tinig sa mga pangyayari ngayon ng karahasan, paglabag sa karapatang pantao at pati korapsyon?" Hontiveros said in a forum.
(Are the killings of these 3 Catholic priests a pattern targeting clergymen airing criticism, adding their voice against current violence, violation of human rights and corruption?)
The minority lawmaker was referring to the slays of Rev. Fr. Richmond Nilo, Rev. Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura and Rev. Fr. Marcelito Paez.
Nilo, a priest in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen as he was about to start Mass last Sunday.
In April 2018, Ventura was shot dead by an unidentified gunman after celebrating Mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.
Paez was gunned down by unidentified assailants in December 2017 after assisting in the release of a political prisoner in the town of Jaen, Nueva Ecija.
Meanwhile, Rev. Fr. Rey Urmenta, a former PNP chaplain, survived an ambush in Calamba, Laguna just last week.
The killings came after President Rodrigo Duterte's repeated verbal assault against the Catholic Church, noted Hontiveros.
"Dapat tigilan ni Presidente 'yung ganyang mga napakabayolente, marahas talaga na atake laban sa Simbahang Katoliko," she said.
(President Duterte should stops these violent and harsh attacks against the Catholic Church.)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has denied that the President's tirades had anything to to with the killings. He also gave the assurance that justice would be served for the slain priests.
-- With a report from Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News