CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 25 January) – A priest from the Diocese of Malaybalay was ambushed and killed by still unidentified armed men Sunday night as he was returning home to St. John XXIII College Seminary, his body found near the gate of the Carmelite Monastery in Barangay Patpat, Malaybalay City.
Police answering calls for assistance by other priests at the seminary found Father Rene Regalado already dead “with gunshots on his head.”
Police investigator Staff Sgt. Jeffrey LLoren said the body of Fr. Regalado was lying some three meters from his service vehicle, a Chevrolet SUV.
“His left eye had contusions as if he was mauled prior to his death. Fr. Regalado was already dead when we arrived,” Lloren told MindaNews by phone.
He said they also found the left arm of the murdered priest “tied with shoe lace color white,” and a Colt .45 pistol with 10 unspent bullets and one empty shell.
“The unspent bullets were extracted from the pistol which was also left behind by the suspects,” he said.
Lloren cannot say whether the suspects intentionally extracted the bullets and left the pistol near the head of the slain priest.
Regalado, also known as “Paring Bukidnon,” a term used for Bukidnon residents who join the priesthood, frequently endorsed farmer issues and organic farming in his social media posts and blogs.
Lloren said Regalado’s family in Barangay Sinayawan, Valencia City have requested for an autopsy of the body, which was brought to the Villanueva Funeral Homes in Malaybalay City Sunday night.
Priests from St. John XXIII College Seminary called the police after hearing several gunshots about 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
Lloren said they found Regalado’s body just a few meters from the gate of the Carmelite Monastery.
He said the priest was going home to St. John XXIII College Seminary when suspects stopped his vehicle on the secluded road.
The Diocese of Malaybalay, in a statement posted on its Facebook page, condemned the murder.
“The Diocese of Malaybalay with its Clergy, Consecrated Persons and Lay Faithful especially the Regalado Family in San Jose Parish, Sinayawan, Valencia City are deeply wounded and saddened with the news of the untimely passing to eternal life of one its clergy”, it said.
The Diocese said it hopes the perpetrators are brought to justice
The Diocese said the slain priest would be laid at the San Isidro Labrador Cathedral in Malaybalay after the autopsy is done. He will be buried in the Malaybalay Catholic Cemetery.
Regalado was ordained priest on Oct. 18, 2007 by Bukidnon Bishop Emeritus Honesto Pacana S.J. He finished his Baccalaureate degree in Theology at San Isidro College and his pre-college and college seminary formation at St. John XXIII Pre-College and College Seminaries in Malaybalay City.
Regalado finished his theological studies at the St. John Mary Vianney Theological Seminary in Camaman-an, Cagayan de Oro City. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)