The murder of Fr Richmond Nilo follows those of Fr Mark Ventura, on 29 April, and Fr Marcelito Paez, on 4 December 2017. Since the beginning of 2018, 18 Catholic priests have been killed in the world, on average one every 9 days.
Manila (AsiaNews) – Unidentified gunmen killed Fr Richmond Nilo, of the Diocese of Cabanatuan, yesterday as he was about to start Mass in a chapel in Mayamot, Nueva Ecija.
The initial investigation indicates the assassins shot four times through a window fatally wounding the clergyman before fleeing on a car.
"We are not afraid. The mission goes on," said Fr Giovanni Re, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in the Philippines, the day after the killing of the third priest since December 2017.
"The news of the murder of Fr Richmond Nilo took us by surprise. We have no idea as to what might have motivated this murder, nor who ordered it,” Fr Re told AsiaNews.
"It is not clear what happened. However, this series of murders shows that someone is resentful of the Church, especially priests. At present, we [missionaries] do not fear for our lives. Perhaps, it is especially the diocesan priests who feel the greatest pressure.
"We are waiting to see the real reasons for these killings. President Duterte has repeatedly mentioned alleged involvement of priests in matters related to sex and money. Someone claims that this may have helped to create a climate of hatred that leads to murders."
The assassination of 40-year-old Fr Nilo follows the killings of Fr Mark Ventura in Gattaran (Cagayan), on 29 April, and Fr Marcelito Paez in Jaen (Nueva Ecija) on 4 December.
Speaking to AsiaNews on the occasion of Fr Ventura’s murder, a local missionary expressed fears for the safety of priests and all men and women religious working on behalf of tribal group and workers. "We seem to be back in the days of President Marcos's dictatorship," he said.
Since the start of 2018, 18 Catholic priests have been killed in the world, on average one every 9 days.
The two most tragic years since 2010 were 2013, with 20 priests killed, and 2010 with 19, including Mgr Luigi Padovese killed in Turkey. In the past eight years, 125 priests have been murdered.