MANILA - Police on Monday said it has drawn a blank on the motive behind the killing of a priest in Cagayan province after witnesses claimed in an initial investigation that the victim had no enemies and did not receive any death threat.
Fr. Mark Ventura, parish priest of San Isidro Labrador in Gattaran town, had just finished celebrating Mass when he was shot dead by an unidentified gunman, who fled on board a motorcycle driven by a waiting accomplice on Sunday.
"Sa ngayon po, hindi pa natin ma-establish ang pagkakakilanlan at motibo po sa pagpatay kay Fr. Mark Ventura po," Gattaran police director Chief Insp. Rodel Tabulog told DZMM.
"Wala po tayong makuhang pagbabanta kasi lahat po ng na-interview natin kahapon, [sinabi na] wala naman pong kagalit, mabait pong pari itong si Fr. Mark," he added.
(We have yet to establish the identity of the suspect and motive in the killing of Fr. Mark Ventura. We did not uncover any threat because everyone we interviewed yesterday said that Fr. Mark had no enemy and was kind.)
The 37-year-old Ventura served at the San Labrador parish for 11 months, often visiting churchgoers in their homes for a chat, said Tabulog.
Ventura was also known for his advocacy against mining and aiding indigenous peoples, the once-ruling Liberal Party had said.
Police are looking into whether or not Ventura's killing is linked to his previous assignments or his work as a the director of a school in the town, the police officer said.
Ventura's death comes some 4 months after motorcycle-riding gunmen also shot dead an elderly priest in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.
Fr. Marcelito Paez, the 72-year-old victim, had helped free a political prisoner before his murder. His killing remains unsolved, prompting members of the Catholic church earlier this month to launch a nationwide campaign seeking justice.