Gov’t mulls task force to probe priest killings

A woman weeps at the casket bearing slain priest Fr. Richmond Nilo. (RP Dayao image)

WITH the spate of priest killings, Malacanang said Monday it is considering creating a task force that will investigate the crimes to swiftly bring to justice the killers.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque bared the plan in a Palace briefing as he condemned the killing of Fr. Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija on Sunday.

Nilo was the third priest who was gunned down since late last year. Unidentified gunmen shot Nilo four times while he was about to celebrate Mass in a chapel in Zaragoza town.

Roque said the investigation of Nilo’s death would be prioritized as he would personally coordinate with Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde to monitor developments on the case.

“Ako na po ang tututok kay General Albayalde mismo para malaman ko ang estado ng imbestigasyon. Mabilis naman pong gumalaw ang ating kapulisan (I will coordinate with General Albayalde himself to know the status of the investigation. Our police work quickly),” PNA quoted Roque as saying.

The proposed task force would be similar to the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), which was created through Administration Order No. 01 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2016 to address media killings and harassment.

The PTFoMS headed by Communications Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco may also include the investigation of priest killings, according to Roque.

Roque blamed the attack on Catholic priests to the culture of impunity that has been around since the time of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

rw/p: wjg