CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – A parish priest killed last Sunday and a lawyer who was also gunned down two weeks ago in the same city of Malaybalay both faced similar circumstances of court charges.
Killed on Sunday night was Father Rene Regalado, age 42, who was found lifeless a few meters from his Chevrolet vehicle near the Carmelite Monastery in Sitio Pali-in, Barangay Patpat, Malaybalay. Regalado was said to be driving back to St. John XXIII Seminary where he was staying, which was about three kilometers away.
Malaybalay Police Chief Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Tambis said they found the priest bathed in his own blood with gunshot wounds in his head.
Police also noticed a white shoelace tied on the victim’s left hand and a .45 caliber pistol was found at the back of his head. Also found at the crime scene were two magazines, one empty shell and ten live cartridges.
In an official statement, Fr. Virgilio Delfin, the Malaybalay diocese’s spokesperson, said they are “deeply wounded and saddened” with Regalado’s death.
Delfin noted that hours before he was killed, Regalado informed his companions that he had a meeting with someone who he did not identify before he left the seminary.
“We request everyone to offer prayers… for the immediate results of the investigation and that justice will be served to whom it is due,” he added.
Regalado was previously assigned to San Isidro Labrador Parish in Lala town, Lanao del Norte and had transferred to the Malaybalay diocese last December and had no parish assignment yet.
Malaybalay Police had learned that Regalado had earlier received information of threats to his life but did not report this to authorities.
It was in Lala when Regalado was charged with rape by a church volunteer, Tambis said.
Fr. Delfin, who was Regalado’s mentor during his seminary days, said he had talked with Regalado about this case. He said Regalado was “wrongfully accused and illegally arrested” and had even posted bail on the ground of illegal arrest. The diocese provided him with a lawyer.
In a statement, Sowing the Seeds of Peace has denounced the deaths of Regalado and lawyer Winstong Intong, who was gunned down in Barangay 10, Malaybalay on January 14.
“The killing of a priest, and recently, a lawyer, means the level of impunity in our society has reached a deplorable level,” said Bishop Felixberto Calang, an Iglesia Filipina Independiente official and main convenor of Sowing the Seeds of Peace.
“If lawyers and priests get killed that easy, what more of those coming from the marginalized sectors?” said Calang.
“We are expressing our condolences to the Roman Catholic Church in Malaybalay for the loss of a precious life of a man of the cloth and one with them in searching for truth and justice for the killing of Fr. Rene,” he added.
Meanwhile, another group, the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), condemned the murder of Intong, aged 56, who was shot outside his residence in Barangay 10, Malaybalay on January 14.
“An officer of the court, Atty. Intong was denied of his rightful day in court when he was gunned down by motorcycle-riding in tandem, in gross violation of his right to life, security and due process,” said lawyer Beverly Musni, an officer of UPLM.
The group has noted that that there have been 54 lawyers, prosecutors and judges who became victims of extrajudicial killings since 2016.
Intong was arrested in 2011 in a drug buy-bust in his law office in Valencia, a news report said. He was acquitted from drug charges, the Bukidnon provincial police said.
Tambis said the Intong’s death could be borne out of personal grudge. But Longakit confirmed that the lawyer was on the drug watchlist of President Rodrigo Duterte. (davaotoday.com)Father Rene Regalado, human rights violations, Killings, Malaybalay Police, Mindanao, Winstong Intong