Human rights priest killed in Eastern Visayas

In a previous post I had about Melissa Roxas, I mentioned that there were human rights activists claiming that they are targets of the government’s cleansing process after the country’s anti-terrorism law had taken effect. In recent news, a Catholic priest Fr. Cecilio Pelito Lucero, the Parish Priest of Catubig, Northern Samar was killed on September 6th. Lucero, a known human rights advocate in Samar Island and younger brother of former Northern Samar Rep. Wilmar Lucero, was to celebrate his 20th year as a priest this September 14th.

Rights drive eyed in slay of priest
September 7, 2009, 5:28pm
Manila Times

TACLOBAN CITY — A politically well-connected Roman Catholic priest from Northern Samar was killed and his two bodyguards wounded after they were ambushed by heavily armed men on Monday morning along the San Jose national highway in Northern Samar.

Fr. Lucero, his escorts, PO2 Eugene Bation and civilian Isidro Miras were on board a van on their way to Catarman when two of the armed men, riding on a motorcycle, sped along, firing at them. The priest died on the spot. His escorts fired back at the assailants, who, after felling the priest, scampered away.

Fr. Lucero comes from a politically prominent family in the province. His brother, Antonio, is incumbent Northern Samar vice governor. In a previous interview, Catarman Bishop Emmanuel Trance had disclosed Fr. Lucero had been receiving death threats from unknown groups because of his human rights advocacy in his diocese. Bishop Trance said he tolerated Fr. Lucero’s carrying a gun even when the latter says mass because he said he understood, the priest needed it for security purposes.

Killings in the province have been very rampant as the elections draw near, alarming Catholic bishops in Region 8 led by Palo Archbishop Jose S. Palma, the incoming new Vice President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. In Samar alone, around 30 persons including Carlos de la Cruz, town mayor of Matuguinao, Samar have been killed since last month. (With a report by Restituto A. Cayubit)

This news comes as a shock to me even though I’ve heard many stories of priests and other religious figures being killed on grounds of religious differences or political controversies. I believe that senseless acts and killings like this that occur in the Philippines is not helping the progress of our country. It also sends a message to other nations that our president is unfit to lead as well as backlash from both international and local human rights groups. To read more about this unfortunate event, please refer to the sources listed below.

Samar News
Manila Times

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