MANILA — Authorities are urging priests and other persons facing threats to coordinate and report these to local police even as the Philippine National Police 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.
“First of all I’ve given chiefs of police of territorial units down the line to coordinate with the different priests sa kanilang lugar (in their areas), kung may nalalaman silang threats sa priests sa kanilang (if they know anything about threats to priests in their) area of responsibility, ‘di lang sa Katoliko ito, sa lahat ng relihiyon (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 aside from coordinating with local policemen, priests and other religious leaders may also be allowed to bear firearms if they are so inclined and undergo the process to carry guns for personal security.
“Kung mag-apply sila (if they will apply) why not, wala namang discrimination dito (there is no discrimination here),” Albayalde said when asked whether priests can apply for firearms licenses.
Fr. Nilo’s death follows the killing of another priest, Mark Ventura who was shot in Cagayan last month.
In December 2017, Fr. Marcelito Paez was also gunned down in Nueva Ecija.
Albayalde said the Police Regional Office 3 has been directed to form a special investigation task group (SITG) to probe the killing.
The PNP chief said the deaths, however, may still be considered as isolated cases.
“Hindi naman siguro pwede maging gauge yan hindi naman araw-araw may namamatay na pari. Hindi naman siguro magiging basis na sabihin (na) least safe tayo. (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. Benjamin Pulta/PNA-northboundasia.com