MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) condemned on Sunday, April 29, the murder of 37-year-old priest Father Mark Ventura, who was shot dead by riding-in-tandem killers after saying Mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.
"We condemn this evil act!" said CBCP president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles in a statement Sunday afternoon.
"We make our appeal to the authorities to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice," he added.
In a separate statement, Liberal Party president Senator Francis Pangilinan also said his party "condemns the senseless killing" of Ventura.
"The brazen attack on the 37-year-old Fr Ventura, known for his advocacy against mining and being of aid to indigenous peoples, has no place in our society and under this administration which boasts of prioritizing law and order and brags about reduced crime rates," Pangilinan said.
Youth group Anakbayan also condemned Ventura's killing, blaming the Duterte administration for what it called a "fascistic, tyrannical, and mafia-style rule."
"Its fascist campaign has rendered people from the religious sector as legitimate targets of killings, intimidation, and harassment for speaking up not only against the madman's bloody war on drugs but also against the social and political injustices perpetrated by the regime," said Anakbayan in a statement.
Photo courtesy of Gattaran Youth
Ventura was the second priest to be gunned down in 4 months, CBCP News said.
Read the CBCP's full statement below:
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are totally shocked and in utter disbelief to hear about the brutal killing of Fr Mark Ventura, Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao. Right after celebrating the Sunday Eucharist at 8 o'clock in the morning today, he was shot to death by murderers riding in tandem.
We offer our prayers for Fr Ventura, for his bereaved family, and the lay faithful of Tuguegarao. We also pray for Archbishop Sergio Utleg, his priests, and the religious of the archdiocese, who this year, in union with the whole Church in the Philippines, are celebrating the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.
We condemn this evil act!
We make our appeal to the authorities to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice.
May God have mercy on us all!
From the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
Archbishop Romulo G. Valles
April 29, 2018