04/03/2007, 00.00
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Killer of Indonesian missionary arrested

by Santosh Digal
Police arrest a farmer from Lubuagan area for the crime, and two people who were present at the scene when he shot the priest. For investigators the crime was committed under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Lubuagan (AsiaNews) – Police last night arrested a man who killed an Indonesian priest in the northern Philippines as the latter was preparing to say mass on Palm Sunday. Police investigators confirmed that three other men were present at the scene of the crime; two of them have been detained whilst the third was able to flee.

A farmer from the northern province of Kalinga, Nestor Wailan, alias Sukman, shot Fr Francis Madhu five times with an M-16 Armalite rifle. The priest was on his way to celebrate mass in Barangay Mabungot.

The police are still evaluating the evidence to determine the role, if any, played by the two other men detained, Joel Awingan and Acmor Bonggawon. Investigators believe the men acted under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

According to the preliminary police report, Fr Madhu was in the company of several catechists and some church members when they were accosted by Wailan. The suspect reportedly accused the priest of some wrongdoings before killing him.

Fr Jerome Adriatico, provincial supervisor of the Verbite missionaries, said they were clueless as to the killer’s motive. He said it was unlikely for the murdered priest to be involved in a grudge.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) immediately condemned the killing, saying it was “an attack on the Church.”

Caloocan Bishop Deogracia Iñiguez Jr., head of CBCP media affairs, called on authorities to solve the murder without delay.

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