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Another Priest Murdered in Philippines

October 16, 2006

According to the Philippines Daily Inquirer, another priest was murdered this week, in a killing similar to the one of Bishop Alberto Ramento last week.

Less than a week after Philippine Independent Church (PIC) Bishop Alberto Ramento was killed in his convent, another priest of the church also popularly known as Aglipayan, was murdered in his home in Surigao del Sur, police said Monday.

Chief Superintendent Antonio Nanas, Caraga Region police chief, said Dionisio Gingging, 54, was shot and stabbed by five still unidentified persons.

Nanas said the killers barged into Gingging's residence at Purok (sub-village) Sunkis, Barangay (village) Bajao, Tago town around 5 a.m. Sunday.

He said they were eyeing a personal grudge as the possible motive for the murder.

"The suspects used a pistol and a sundang (bladed weapon) that caused the priest's instant death. Mukhang malaki ang galit dun sa pari (It appears there was great anger towards the priest)," said Nanas in a phone interview.

Nanas said he already ordered the region's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to hasten its investigation of the crime.

Gingging's murder came the same day the militant Promotion of Church People's Rights said at least five more Aglipayan priests feared they were targets for political killing.

Several priests of the church, which has its roots in the Philippine revolution against Spain and has maintained a militant tradition, are closely involved with activist groups and a number are among what human rights groups estimate are the more than 750 victims of extrajudicial killings since 2001.

Ramento was stabbed dead in his convent Tuesday last week in what police said was a robbery. Authorities have arrested four alleged robbers they said were responsible for the bishop's death.

But militant groups, Ramento's colleagues, friends and even family say they doubt the police angle and suspect the bishop's death had to do with his outspoken human rights advocacy and his criticism of the Arroyo administration.

By Thea Alberto

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