A priest was shot dead “meters away” from a monastery in Malaybalay City in Bukidnon on Sunday, January 24. Police suspect “revenge” as a motive.
Father Rene Regalado, 42, was shot dead near his Chevrolet SUV in front of the Carmelite Monastery, adding to a list of priests slain ever since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.
Regalado left the monastery at around 2 pm on Sunday, to go to the Diocesan Formation Center in Barangay 10 in Malaybalay City.
He was last seen at 7 pm in the formation center.
At 7:30 pm, one priest in the monastery heard gunshots but did not verify where they came from.
Regalado was only found at around 9:45 pm when a police officer passed through the area.
The crime scene
The police officer, identified as Staff Sergeant Fermin Delfin, “saw the SUV Chevrolet parked inclined [on] the road and noticed the unconscious body of the victim that prompted him to [ask for] assistance at the Carmelite Monastery.”
Investigators found multiple gunshot wounds on his head and indications that he was mauled, citing a bruised left eye. Police also found a .45 colt pistol with 10 bullets and an empty shell.
The priest’s left hand was tied with a white shoelace.
In a phone interview with Rappler, PNP Bukidnon chief Colonel Roel Lami-Ing said they are looking at “revenge” as a motive for the killing.
Citing their records, Lami-Ing said Regalado was charged with rape during his time in Lala, Lanao del Norte in 2020, but was able to secure bail “through a technicality” in December. He was a former parish priest of the town.
After posting bail, Regalado went home to Bukidnon and stayed with the Carmelite sisters until he was shot dead on Sunday.
Lami-Ing said they are also looking at reports of Regalado being an activist against illegal logging and for farmers’ rights, but no information has been confirmed, he said.
A community wounded
In a statement, the Diocese of Malaybalay condemned the killing and called for justice.
“The diocese of Malaybalay with its clergy, consecrated persons, and lay faithful, especially the Regalado family in San Jose Parish, Sinayawan, Valencia City, are deeply wounded and saddened,” the statement said.
After his wake at the San Isidro Labrador Cathedrial in Malaybalay City, Regalado will be buried at the Malaybalay Catholic Cemetery. – Rappler.com