MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has condemned the "brutal and brazen" killing of a Cagayan priest as it urged the government to bring the criminals to justice.
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 April 29.
"The CHR strongly condemns the brutal and brazen killing of priest Fr. Mark Ventura, who was gunned down in broad daylight after officiating Mass in Gattaran, Cagayan," the agency said in a statement Friday.
The CHR said the government should not let the case go unresolved as it called for a speedy investigation.
"Given the State’s duty in ensuring the protection of our right to life, we urge the government to not let this case go unresolved by acting expediently and bring[ing] the perpetrators to justice, along with other cases of deaths in the country," it said.
The commission also noted the "series of attacks" against Church workers, citing the cases of Australian nun Patricia Fox and slain Nueva Ecija priest Fr. Marcelito Paz as examples.
"We hope that this series of attacks against church workers who are doing important humanitarian work for the vulnerable sectors is not another form of harassment against human rights defenders," the CHR said.
Ventura was slain some 4 months after motorcycle-riding gunmen also shot dead Fr. Paz.
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.
Fox, meanwhile, was ordered by the government to leave the country on allegations that she had illegally engaged in a political activity in Davao City. The Australian nun has appealed the order.
"Regardless of faith, political affiliations, and ideology, we are all human beings. We must appeal to our common humanity at all times and demand that all killings and forms of violence that harm our human rights be stopped," the CHR said.