MANILA - The alleged gunman in the slay of a priest in Nueva Ecija has been arrested, the Philippine National Police said Monday, just days after a local court ruled that a previously arrested suspect was not the killer.
Police Director Roel Obusan, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said police traced the whereabouts of suspect Omar Mallari using the plate number of a vehicle caught in a CCTV footage when Fr. Richmond Nilo was killed.
Obusan said there was an existing warrant of arrest against the suspect for robbery with homicide in connection with a different case. The suspect, he said, confessed to shooting the priest.
"Noong siya ay nahuli sa robbery with homicide, kasama na siyempre 'yung sa investigation 'yung death ni Fr. Nilo, at dito na siya nag-self confess on the incident," the police official told reporters in a briefing at Camp Crame.
Aside from Mallari, cops also arrested suspect Manuel Torres, while two other suspects, Rolando Garcia and Marius Albis Torres, surrendered. Some suspects remain at large.
Mallari and Garcia confessed in their respective affidavits that they were paid P100,000 by Torres to kill the priest, according to Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, director of Police Regional Office 3.
Torres allegedly has grudges against Fr. Nilo for filing molestation charges against his nephew who was a seminarian.
"Nasabi nito na galit si Manuel Torres sa pari dahil hindi natuloy sa pagkapari si Christopher Torres dahil kinasuhan nga ni Fr. Nilo ng rape. We are looking into that lead right now pero it is not yet safe to say na hanggang doon lang," Corpus said.
Fr. Nilo was shot dead just before a Mass in a church in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija last June 10. His death has raised concern in the Roman Catholic church because he is already the third priest to be gunned down in 6 months.