Missionaries condemn killing of mayor in Philippines

Cycle of violence continues to mar nation's elections
Missionaries condemn killing of mayor in Philippines

Mayor Randy Climaco of Tungawan town in Mindanao, seen in this undated photo, was assassinated Oct. 12, continuing a wave a election-related violence in the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Father Larry Lorenzo)

Catholic missionaries working in the southern Philippine town of Tungawan condemned the Oct. 12 assassination of the town's mayor as "an act of no less than evil savagery of people without souls."

"We are outraged, appalled, and anguished by the barbaric assassination," read a statement released by the Claretian missionaries Oct. 15, three days after the ambush of Randy Climaco.

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Climaco on the first day politicians filed certificates of candidacy to run for office in the 2016 national elections.

Violence has become a highlight of Philippine elections, leading Catholic bishops to call on the faithful in August "to be actively engaged in the apostolate of evangelizing the political order."

During 2013 midterm elections, at least seven people were reported killed on polling day alone, while at least 60 people were killed in the lead-up to the elections.

In the 2010 national elections, the town of Tungawan was identified as an "area of concern."

The Commission on Elections said Climaco was the first politician to be killed in the region during the current elections season.

Climaco was part of a three-vehicle convoy that was ambushed in the village of Cayamcam after attending a festival.

Claretian Father Larry Lorenzo said the mayor's "tolerance for our cry for communitarian peace and reconciliation was most commendable, in a small rural town beset by fear and violence."

"We have a few differences in matters of principle, but we remained friends," said Father Lorenzo.

In their statement, the Claretian missionaries called on Philippine authorities "to investigate swiftly this heinous crime against the sacredness of life." 

The missionaries, who have been living in the area for almost 50 years, said the death of the mayor "drew us to sad silence for he was a father to the community."

"He was a brother to us Claretians ... His heart was like ours, for he was moved with the same fire of love for the people of Tungawan. His mission was one with us to create a better place to live and call Tungawan our home," the statement read.

"We condemn this senseless killing," added the missionaries.

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