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Police arrest priest murder suspects

Siblings allegedly hired gunmen to kill Father Rigonan over property dispute

Catholics release white balloons after a Mass at the tomb of Father
Rigonan Catholics release white balloons after a Mass at the tomb of Father Rigonan
  • Leilani Adriano, Ilocos Norte
  • Philippines
  • January 6, 2012
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Police yesterday arrested two of five suspects in the killing of a priest more than four years ago.

Roger Macalma and his sister were arrested at their home in Balbuena Village in connection with the death on August 28, 2007 of Father Florante Rigonan.

A third suspect, another sister named Liwliwa, gave herself up to police later.

Fr Rigonan was shot dead after leaving the house of Florencio and Elisea Macalma, relatives of the suspects, who had returned to retire after four decades of working in San Francisco.

The pair arrested allegedly hired two gunmen, still unaccounted for, to kill Fr Rigonan over a property dispute.

The couple had donated five million pesos (US$108,000) and raised 250,000 pesos more from family and friends abroad for the construction of their new parish church, which Father Rigonan oversaw.

According to witnesses, Roger, Lydia and Liwliwa Macalmas – the couple’s nephew and nieces – did not like Rigonan’s appointment as “administrator” of the couple’s properties in the Philippines. The priest had also been given gifts including a trip to the US anded a service van for his parish activities.
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