PNP identifies killer of Fr Nilo in Nueva Ecija; CBCP, Baguilat hit slay

>> Saturday, June 16, 2018

POLICE have already identified a suspect in the killing of a Catholic priest in Nueva Ecija province last week while four others have already been the subject of an investigation.
Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, regional director of Central Luzon Police Regional Office said the Special Investigation Task Group Nilo are already on the process of confirming the identity of the identified suspect tagged in the killing of Father Richmond Nilo, the parish priest of St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Mayamot, Zaragoza, Nueva, Ecija.
Corpus bared this in a press briefing at Camp Crame even as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines demanded that police capture the “bloody murderers” responsible for the “brutal death” of Fr. Nilo, who they say was gunned down inside a chapel just prior to Mass Sunday.
The CBCP said  Nilo, was shot dead around 5 p.m. June 9 by mystery gunmen who reportedly fled the scene in a car after opening fire through a glass window and striking him four times.
Nilo, they said, was the third Catholic priest shot to death in the Philippines in the past six months.
“We strongly condemn this outrageously evil act!” Romulo G. Valles, the Archbishop of Davao, said Monday in a statement. “We make our appeal once again to the police authorities to act swiftly in the investigation and to go after the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice. O Merciful Lord! Have pity on us!”
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat also condemned the brutal murder of Fr. Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan and called on the Duterte administration to swiftly bring the killers to justice.
This, as Corpus said police are hot on the trail of the five suspects who were seen in the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footages retrieved from the nearby barangays and towns.
“We are now looking into five suspects based on the CCTV footages na nakuha po since… up to the next towns na pwedeng pagkuhanan ng CCTV (We are now looking into five suspects based on the CCTV footages that we obtained [from Barangay Mayamot, Zaragoza] up to the next towns where we can get CCTV [footages]),” he shared.
“We have initially identified one personality and the SITG in Nueva Ecija is now working on this, confirming the identity of this personality which is you know nakita sa CCTV (seen on the CCTV),” he added.
However, Corpus refused to give specific details on the identified suspect so as not to jeopardize the on-going investigation by the SITG Nilo. However, he dropped a hint that the suspect was among the three “lookouts” who rode the get-away vehicle parked about two to three kilometers from the chapel.
Meanwhile, the two other suspects, who are considered as the gunmen, were onboard a motorcycle.
“In the backtrack and review of the CCTV footages, it appeared that the two groups have changed vehicles after the crime. The two gunmen used the get-away vehicle while the three lookouts boarded the motorcycle,” he said.
At least three possible motives behind Father Nilo’s killing are being considered by the SITG Nilo, including the priest’s active participation in land dispute issues in Nueva Ecija, his role in supporting rape victims and filing charges against the suspects, and his staunch “criticism” of other religious sect’s wrongdoings.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde expressed optimism that the case will be resolved immediately and the suspects will be put behind bars.
He also said the PNP is willing to provide security to members of the religious sector if they think there’s a threat on their lives.
“If they think their life is under threat, we will provide them with security. Magrequest sila sa atin (just request it to us) and if we really think na meron talagang threat sa kanilang buhay (that there’s really a threat on their lives), we will afford that privilege to anybody,” Albayalde said.
President Duterte earlier gave an order to Albayalde to immediately resolve Father Nilo’s killings and the other cases in the past few months.
Nilo is the fourth Catholic priest to be shot and the third to be killed by unidentified suspects since December 2017.
On December 4, 2017, Father Marcelito Paez was killed in Jaen, Nueva Ecija while on April 29, Father Mark Ventura was shot dead after officiating a mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.
Prior to Nilo’s case, Father Rey Urmeneta, former director of the PNP Chaplain Services and now parish priest of Sant Michael the Archangel Parish in Calamba, Laguna, was also shot by unidentified suspects. He luckily survived the attack with gunshot wounds at the left arm and back.
Meanwhile, Corpus denied that there was a pattern in the killing of priests, especially on the cases of Father Nilo and Father Paez in Nueva Ecija.
“These are separate cases. Just to inform you that the SITG Paez is working on the case and the provincial director told me he has invited two personalities who were with Father [Paez] an hour or two hours before he was killed in the municipality of Jaen,” Corpus said.
Meanwhile, Baguilat said,  “Just like the killings of the poor in the ongoing drug war, killings of journalists and indigenous peoples leaders, no one has been brought to justice.”
“This tyranny and impunity have led the President to warn that lawlessness is taking over the country and yet he has also repeatedly declared his vow to bring peace and order to the Philippines. I sincerely hope that he will make good on his words and bring justice to victims like Fr. Nilo,” he added.
Baguilat said without justice, extrajudicial killings and assassinations become more pervasive and seen as the norm, thus further emboldening people to either take the law into their own hands or defy it, thus spilling even more blood into the Philippines’ streets.
Baguilat knew Fr. Nilo’s work personally as the 44-year-old priest was one of the staunchest supporters of the leadership and good governance programs of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership. – With a report by Alexa Fontanilla


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