MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said the government should not be blamed for the death of a Cagayan priest who was shot dead by motorcycle-riding assailants.
"So ‘yung may namatay na pari diyan ganu'n (There is a priest who died there). Have you considered other angles? I am not at liberty to break the Constitution of the Philippines," Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
"[W]hy would we kill priests and ako pa ang pagbintangan (I am the one being blamed)."
Father 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 Commission on Human Rights on Saturday condemned the "brutal and brazen" killing of Ventura and noted the "series of attacks" against Church workers, citing the cases of Australian nun Patricia Fox and slain Nueva Ecija priest Father Marcelito Paz as examples.
Ventura was slain some 4 months after motorcycle-riding gunmen also shot dead Paz.
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.