Photo courtesy of Maria Tan/Rappler

‘Serious personal grudge’ seen as motive in Fr. Mark Ventura’s killing

Raymon DullanaRaymon Dullana is The Northern Forum's new editor in chief. He also works as correspondent for Rappler.com.

Cagayan

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Investigators said the killing of Father Mark Ventura on Sunday, April 29, could have been due to “serious personal grudges” against the priest.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, May 2, Philippine National Police (PNP) –Cagayan Valley regional police unit said initial results of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) ruled out three possible motives the police earlier listed.

Police Chief Superintendent Jose Mario Espino, PNP-Cagayan police chief, said investigators have yet to subject Ventura’s two cellular phones into forensic examinations, adding that this would later on strengthen police’s theory.

Once the phones are opened, Espino said this will lead investigators into “persons of interest.”

Espino also refused to elaborate yet on the personal grudges due to many speculations that “will only muddle the investigation.”

Ruled out

Three days after the killing, police have so far narrowed down their investigation into one possible motive.

Espino said the New People’s Army (NPA) could have not been involved in the killing of Ventura in suspicion that the priest is a government spy.

“We ruled it out because the manner the gunmen ‘yung killing style, that doesn’t speak of an NPA,” Espino said, adding that Ventura was only “friendly” to authorities.

The motive on his anti-mining stance was also ruled because the mining operations in the coastal areas in the province had long been stopped, the police chief also said.

Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg, who was also present during the press conference, also said Ventura had “not been so vocal” in his anti-mining stance.

“Well, all priest, most priest are anti-mining, anti-destructive mining. Some are vocal, others are not. I think Fr. [Ventura] was one of those who are not vocal. Hindi naman siya agresibo, so I can say that I don’t think that will be the reason that for somebody to kill him,” Utleg said.

Investigators also ruled out his involvement in the disciplinary action imposed to a student while he was serving as a school director of Lyceum of Lal-lo.

Espino said the incident would not “suffice to cause the family of the student to resort to murderous act.” Northernforum.net