MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday, June 15, confirmed that the primary suspect in the killing of Catholic priest Richmond Nilo in Nueva Ecija had been arrested.
The arrest was confirmed by the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police, according to PNP spokesperson Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana.
PNP chief Oscar Albayalde identified the suspect as Adell Milan, a resident of Barangy Malapit, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.
“[He] was arrested after he was positively identified through the rouge gallery and computerized facial illustration of suspects presented to him,” said a statement from the Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3).
PRO3 said Milan is a “member of a gun-for-hire group and former drug surrenderer.”
He is now under the custody of Nueva Ecija police and a case for Murder is already being filed against him.
“This development will bring us closer to the real motive behind Fr Nilo’s death as we are still conducting follow-up operations for the possible arrest of other personalities involved,” said Chief Superintendent Amador Corpus, PRO3 chief.
The confirmation of the arrest was made at around the same time Father Nilo was buried at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral in Cabanatuan.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros urged Senate President Vicente Sotto III to reconsider his position against a Senate probe into the killings of 3 priests over the last 6 months.
“Once is an unfortunate random event. Twice could be a coincidence. Thrice is a pattern,” said Hontiveros, who had filed a resolution calling for the probe.
Sotto had rejected the probe, saying the police should be in charge of investigating the incidents. He had also said that the killings “could just be a coincidence.”
“With all due respect to the Senate President, but I think the killings are continuing and too similar to be dismissed as mere coincidence. There is clearly a pattern. First, the killings come on the heels of President Duterte’s continued verbal attacks on the Catholic Church. Second, the three killed priests were vocal critics of state abuses. Third, they were killed in just the span of 6 months, with the two murdered while conducting religious services,” Hontiveros said.
“This is what makes a Senate inquiry different from purely law enforcement work. When there is a pattern of killing among specific groups of people, you have to look at whether there are gaps in our existing laws. On this matter, the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion is threatened. As such, these policy questions can be addressed by a legislative inquiry in aid of legislation,” she added.
Hontiveros also said that Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order, had agreed to conduct hearings on the killings, and on the attack against Fr Rey Urmeneta of Calamba, Laguna.
The two other slain priests are Fr Mark Ventura and Fr Marcelito “Tito” Paez. – Rambo Talabong/Rappler.com