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Clergy Condemns Shooting to Death of Indonesian Priest in the Philippines

By Santosh Digal, BosNewsLife

4/5/07 Philippines (BosNewsLife) In a strongly worded statement, the KARSA branded the shooting to death of Divine Word Fr. Francisco Madhu “most tragic and scandalous given the innocence and vocation of the victim, the brutal nature of the killing, and timing of the killing.”

“The killing could be a case of maliciously making fun of a precious life or venting of a passion to kill on the part of the killer buttressed by the thinking that anyway the person is a priest and a foreigner at that and not somebody from Kalinga,” the statement read in one part.

Fr. Madhu, 31, was a native of Lengkosambi-Riung-Ngada NTT, Indonesia .

The KARSA demanded justice for the victim calling on the police “to do its duty of going after the already identified criminal and prove itself as a pillar of peace and justice.”

The KARSA said that Madhu is the sixth member of the clergy killed in Upper Kalinga in recent times. The number includes a Roman Catholic nun and a minister of the Iglesia ni Kristo.

According to the police, Madhu was preparing to say mass at the Mabungtot Primary School at around 5:30 p.m. when the suspect identified as Nestor Wailan, married, farmer and resident of Dugnac, Antonio Canao, Lubuagan, entered the school house and for unknown reasons shot the priest six times with an M16 armalite rifle with five bullets finding their mark.

After the shooting, Wailan and his three companions, two of whom were identified by police as Joel Awingan, single, also a resident of Dugnac and Acmor Bonggawon, single, resident of Mabungtot, were seen walking to the direction of Dugnac.

The police said that the suspect had talked to Fr. Madhu while the latter was on his way to Mabungtot threatening the latter “Humanda ka.” The priest had ignored the threat.

Meanwhile, Police Senior Inspector Lavis Camdas, public information officer of the Kalinga Provincial Police Office (KPPO), said that they have received orders to launch a massive manhunt for the suspects.

Camdas said that policemen and personnel from the 21st Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army are now combing the immediate area and have sealed all possible exits to Mt. Province and Tabuk.

Fr Madhu was born on May 13, 1976, to a Catholic family in Wewolaci hamlet of Lengkosambi village. The area 1,600 kilometers east of Jakarta is in Ngada district, in the territory of Ende archdiocese which is the predominantly Catholic Indonesian island of Flores .

Madhu was the youngest of five offspring of Rafael Ranggo and Mathilde Mandi. He joined his Religious society in 1995 and prounced his perpetual Religious vows on August 15, 2003. A year later, on August 8, 2004, he was ordained an SVD priest. He was sent to serve as a missioner in the Philippines in 2005.

The slain priest was not was not affiliated with any peasant or farmer group, as many previous victims of alleged extrajudicial killings were. Fr. Madhu spoke the northern Ilocano dialect proficiently, and a pleasant personality and was commited to do his job. The killing of the priest has shocked many missionaries, church personnel and local people.

The Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk serves the provinces of Kalinga and Apayao, where about 66 percent of the people are Catholics. Most of the other residents are other Christians or follow indigenous beliefs.

Fr Madhu was serving in the vicariate with seven other Indonesian SVD priests. The SVD Philippine Northern Province, based in San Fernando City , serves in 10 northern provinces of Luzon , the main northern Philippine island. Thirteen of its 71 priests are foreigners.

Fr Madhu’s remains would be transferred to the Shrine of the Divine Word at Christ the King Seminary in Quezon City , Manila just northeast of Manila and the burrial is set for April 9.