Archbishop appeals to avoid ‘malicious insinuations’ on priest’s murder

Archbishop appeals to avoid ‘malicious insinuations’ on priest’s murder

Priests lead a funeral procession carrying the coffin of Fr. Mark Ventura’s coffin in Tuguegarao City, May 7, 2018. MARK SALUDES

By Roy Lagarde

May 22, 2018

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic Church official is appealing for people to avoid speculation surrounding the brutal killing of Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura.

Archbishop Sergio Utleg of Tuguegarao requested that consideration be given to the impact of such speculation may be directly having on Ventura’s family and friends.

As local authorities are investigating the killing from all angles, he urged the public to let the evidence come to light and let the probe take its course.

“We do not want to speculate on what the reasons are for his death. Neither do we want that the investigation be muddled by the spreading unfounded rumors and malicious insinuations,” Utleg said.

The archbishop said he trusts that the police is doing its job “faithfully” in order to come out with solid evidence, arrest the killers and determine the mastermind.

“Obviously he had enemies. We do not know who they are or why they had to kill him,” said Utleg.

“We hope and pray that the real truth will come out so that justice for Fr. Mark will finally be served,” he said

Utleg made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte insinuated that illicit affairs may be behind the priest’s killing.

In his speech before residents and local officials of Tabongon, Cebu on Sunday, Duterte also showed a matrix titled “Possible Motive (Love Triangle” and has on it pictures of Ventura and eight women.

But the archdiocese still vouched on the Ventura’s integrity, even describing him as “a dedicated priest, a zealous pastor, and missionary to the peripheries”.

“He was beloved by all who knew him. He was an affectionate person, sympathetic, close and intimate to many people: rich and poor, men and women, young and old,” Utleg added.

The 37-year-old priest was shot dead by still unidentified motorcycle-riding men just he was blessing children after celebrating Mass in Gattaran, Cagayan on April 29.

He was a known environmental activist and advocate of tribal people’s rights in Cagayan province.