The Archdiocese of Tuguegarao on Tuesday called on the public to stop making speculations on the motive behind the killing of 37-year-old Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura last month.
“We do not want to speculate on what the reasons are for his death. Neither do we want that the investigation be muddled by the spreading of unfounded rumors and malicious insinuations,” Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg said in a statement.
“Obviously, he had enemies. We do not know who they are or why they had to kill him. The police is investigating the killing from all angles,” Utleg said.
Utleg issued the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte himself bared a s so-called matrix showing Ventura was involved with several women who were married to powerful people.
“Why would you not get killed for this? There’s a — the wife of a vice mayor, the wife of a police, the wife of a soldier, the wife of — a big businessman. You will really die,” said Duterte.
“And why are you blaming me? If you have an adulterous relationship with the wife of a soldier, a police, or a vice mayor, then you will really die,” he added
Utleg hoped that the Philippine National Police (PNP) would be able to arrest and put to justice the perpetrators behind the crime.
“We trust that the PNP is faithfully doing their job. We wish them success, to come out with solid evidence, to apprehend the killers and determine the mastermind,” Utleg said.
The head of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao also remembered the late member of the clergy as a “dedicated priest, a zealous pastor, a missionary to the peripheries.”
“He was beloved by all who knew him. He was an affectionate person, sympathetic, close and intimate to many people: rich and poor, men and women, young and old. We miss his infectious smile and untiring zeal,” he said.
On April 29, Ventura was gunned down by still unidentified motorcycle-riding men after celebrating mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.
A known environmental activist, the priest was also an advocate of tribal people’s rights in Cagayan. (PNA)