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PNP urges priests, religious leaders to report threats

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has urged priests and other persons facing threats to coordinate and report such to the local cops.

The PNP also assured prompt action on the case of Fr. Richmond Nilo who was shot dead at the San Pablo Chapel in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija on Sunday.

“I’ve given chiefs of police of territorial units down the line order to coordinate with the different priests in their areas, if they know of any threats to priests in their area of responsibility. This is not just for Catholics but for all religions,” PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said in a press briefing Monday.

Albayalde also said priests and other religious leaders may be allowed to bear firearms if they are so inclined and undergo the process to carry guns for personal security.

“If they will apply why not, there is no discrimination here,” Albayalde said.

Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan was shot to death by unidentified gunmen. The 40-year-old parish priest of Zaragoza was behind the altar getting ready to start mass at around 6:05 p.m. when two unidentified men shot him through a window four times.

Nilo’s death follows the killing of another priest, Mark Ventura, who was shot in Cagayan last April 29. Last December 5, 2017, Fr. Marcelito Paez was also gunned down in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.

Ventura, a known anti-mining activist, was killed by a gunman at a gymnasium after he concluded mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.

Paez, a retired priest and political activist, was attacked as he drove through Jaen after dropping off a political detainee and his family shortly after he was released.

Albayalde said the Police Regional Office 3 has been directed to form a special investigation task group to probe the killing.

However, he said the incidents may still be considered as isolated cases.

“It cannot really be a gauge of how safe the country is. It’s not every day a priest is killed. We cannot consider it as a basis to say that we are least safe. These are isolated cases,” Albayalde said.#