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Third priest shot in Philippines in six months

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A Philippine priest was shot dead on Sunday while preparing for Mass.

Fr Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan stood behind the altar of his church in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, when two unidentified gunmen shot him through the window. An initial report stated the suspects fled the church by car. Nilo sustained four gunshot wounds and died on the scene.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) tweeted a letter condemning the “outrageously evil act.”

“We pray for the eternal response of the soul of Fr Nilo. We also offer our prayer for his bereaved family,” said CBCP president Romulo G. Valles in the tweet.

The Diocese of Cabanatuan also issued a statement.

“Indeed, it is a tragic day and an irreparable loss for the local Church of Cabanatuan and for all people of goodwill. May his death lead us all to love and live the Catholic faith which Fr Richmond, in his nearly 17 years in the priesthood, undoubtedly loved, courageously preached and staunchly defended,” wrote Sofronio A. Bancud, Bishop of Cabanatuan.

Bishop Bancud called out for an investigation into the attack.

“We demand for justice, for thorough and impartial investigation of the case and for its swift resolution, as we likewise appeal to those who might have material knowledge on this matter to please cooperate with police authorities,” he said.

Nilo was the third Catholic priest to be killed in the Philippines in the past few months. Fr Mark Ventura was shot in April after conducting Mass in Gattaran town at Cagayan province. In December 2017, Fr Marcelito Paez was attacked driving through Jaen after dropping off a political detainee and his family.

Less than a week ago, Fr Rey Urmeneta of the St Michael the Archangel Parish in Calamba was wounded during another attack.