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Priest shot dead after Sunday Mass in Cagayan

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Riding-in-tandem killers shot dead a parish priest in Gattaran town in Cagayan on Sunday morning, April 29, as he was blessing children and talking to choir members after Mass.

In a report reaching Cagayan provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Warren Tolito, the victim was identified as Father Mark Anthony Yuaga Ventura, a resident of Barangay Naruangan in Tuao town.

Initial investigations showed Ventura had just finished saying Mass in Barangay Piña Weste Gymnasium when a man in helmet walked near and shot him twice. He was proclaimed dead on the spot.

Police also said he was blessing the children and talking to the choir members when the assailants killed him.

The suspect, together with the driver of the single motorcycle,  fled towards the highway going Baggao town, the report added.

Police said motive has yet to determined.

Ventura was murdered at around 8 am on Sunday, according to the news service of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Ventura was 37, said CBCP News. 

He was a priest for almost 7 years, "known for his anti-mining advocacies and for helping indigenous peoples in the province," CBCP News also reported. 

Ventura served the San Isidro Labrador Mission Station based in Barangay Mabuno, also in Gattaran. He was also rector of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Lyceum of Aparri.

Ventura was the second priest to be gunned down in 4 months, CBCP News said.

Father Marcelito Paez, 72, was slain in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, also by unidentified gunmen in December 2017. (READ: Father Tito Paez: 'A comrade for others'– Rappler.com