A Filipino Catholic priest was killed by a group of gunmen in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, on Sunday, January 24.
Fr. Rene Bayang Regalado, 42, was pronounced dead at around 8:00 PM after a shooting incident near the Malaybalay Carmel Monastery in Bukidnon’s Patpat village.
According to the police, the priest was found unconscious with gunshot wounds in the head. They believe he was first beaten up with his hands tied before he was shot just meters away from his own vehicle.
Fr. Regalado was reportedly on his way back to the St. John XXIII College Seminary when the incident occurred. (Read: 5 Prayers for Enemies to Make Peace)
According to a statement issued by the diocese of Malaybalay, Fr. Regalado was seen leaving his room in the St. John XXIII College Seminary at around 2:00 PM on Sunday. He was to go to the Malaybalay Carmel Monastery where he has been teaching.
A few hours later, at around 7:30 PM, gunshots were heard from the road near the monastery. The staff were quick to call the police who immediately responded to the incident. (Read: On Its 6th Anniversary, We Recall the Tragic Mamasapano Clash)
Fr. Regalado was brought to the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. His body was then taken to a funeral home for an autopsy while his car was brought to the Philippine National Police Headquarters for further investigation.
Fr. Regalado will be buried at the Malaybalay Catholic cemetery on a date to be determined.
Lt. Col. Jerry Tambis, Malaybalay police chief, said investigations are still ongoing to determine the motive for the killing. However, he said that they are looking at a possible connection between Fr. Regalado’s murder and the recent rape case filed against him.
“He was slapped with a [rape] case in the municipal police station in Lala, Lanao del Norte sometime in October 2020,” Tambis said in an interview.
Murder of Priests
Fr. Regalado is the fourth priest to be murdered in the Philippines since 2017. In December 2017, Fr. Marcelito Paez was shot and killed in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. This was followed by the death of Fr. Mark Ventura in April 2018, where he was gunned down by two men who were “riding in tandem” in Cagayan.
Two months later, in June 2018, Fr. Richmond Nilo of Nueva Ecija was killed as he was about to celebrate Mass at a town chapel in Zaragoza.