Father Rene Regalado was shot dead on Jan. 24 in Malaybalay City in Mindanao. (Photo: Malaybalay Diocese)
A Catholic priest has been shot dead near a Carmelite monastery in Bukidnon province in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.
The body of Father Rene Regalado, 42, was found near his car in Malaybalay City on Jan. 24. He had been shot in the head.
Malaybalay Diocese said it had received reports that churchgoers had heard gunshots around 7.30pm, adding it took at least an hour for police to arrive at the scene.
It is believed he was shot while returning to his lodgings at the nearby Saint John XXIII College Seminary.
Fellow clergymen said Father Regalado, who had been a priest since 2007, left the seminary earlier that afternoon but did not say where he was going.
Police said the priest had received death threats following a recent rape allegation made against him in a nearby province.
“We are looking at revenge as a motive. Right now, we are not yet sure if the alleged rape is connected to his death,” said Bukidnon police spokesman Colonel Roel Lami-Ing .
He said Father Regalado was accused of raping a girl who worked in his previous parish.
Police said there were indications that the priest had been assaulted before he was shot.
Malaybalay Diocese said it was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the news of Father Regalado’s death.
“We express our deepest sympathy to his immediate family and supplicate to the Lord of Life that justice will be served against the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” it said.
It also requested prayers from clergymen and churchgoers for a swift and successful investigation into the murder.
“We request everyone offers prayers for … immediate results in the investigation and that justice will be served to whom it is due,” the diocese said in its statement.