MANILA — There is no connection between the killing of three priests last year and the alleged death threats against Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo slammed critics attributing the killing of Fr. Mark Ventura, Fr. Tito Paez, and Fr. Richmond Nilo to David’s alleged death threats, noting that they are “different cases.”
“Let us not put one and one together. They are altogether two different cases,” he said in a statement.
Panelo said attributing the killing of the three priests to Bishop David is “unfair” and “uncalled for”.
He pointed out that Ventura, in particular, was killed because of personal grudge.
“Personal grudge was the motive behind this dastardly crime, as it was confirmed that the late priest supposedly had illicit affairs with at least eight women, based on the information gathered by the Special Investigation Task Group formed by the Philippine National Police,” Panelo said.
“We wish to reiterate that the Palace has nothing to do with his death, or that his murder has something to do with his duties as a man of the cloth,” he added.
Fr. Nilo was shot dead in a chapel in Nueva Ecija; Fr. Paez was killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Jaen, Nueva Ecija; and Fr. Ventura was also killed by riding-in-tandem assailants in Cagayan province.
The three priests were murdered in a span of less than seven months.
Following the killing of the three priests, Duterte ordered an intensified campaign against criminality to maintain peace and order in the country.
Noting that his quarrel with the Catholic Church is personal, the President warned those who threaten to harm priests to stop or face him.
His warning came after Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, in a text message to former presidential aide, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, reported that some priests have been receiving death threats. Azer Parrocha /PNA-northboundasia.com