MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday claimed that the alleged illicit affairs of priest Mark Anthony Ventura could be the strongest reason behind his killing.
Duterte said the police were looking at several angles in their investigation of the Cagayan priest’s killing last April 29, but the priest’s alleged affairs with various women, some of whom were linked to businessmen and political personalities, stood out.
“Ang strongest, actually, is babae (women),” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
Duterte had threatened to reveal more of what he knows about the Ventura case after being criticized by the Church for some of his policies.
During his speech, the President read aloud what appeared to be a police investigation report on Ventura’s killing.
The police, Duterte said, looked at four possible angles: his alleged affairs, political ties, tiff with communists, and anti-black sand mining advocacy.
The President said the police gave the most weight to the priest’s alleged affairs and also considered his political links as reasons for his slay.
He said the police also retrieved supposed text messages from the priest’s cellphone from various women. He also cited reports that the priest had a child with a woman in Cagayan.
Priests and prelates who knew Ventura have denied Duterte’s accusations, as they seek justice for the slain priest.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, an outspoken Duterte critic, said Ventura’s killing will never be justifiable whatever the motive may be.
Aside from Ventura, two other priests, Marcelito Paez and Richmond Nilo, were also killed in the past six months, sparking outrage among the Catholic faithful and human rights groups.