Fr. Jun Mercado, 2 other Cotabato priests succumb to COVID-19  

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 23 May) — COVID-19 claimed the lives of three priests in the Archdiocese of Cotabato  in four days, among them Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), peace advocate and former President of the Notre Dame University.

Mercado died of cardiac arrest at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday, May 23, at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CRMC),  after weeks of fighting COVID-19, He would have turned 73 on May 29. 

Fr. Loreto Sanoy, 77, Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in Cotabato City and Fr. Rex Bacero, 52, President of the Notre Dame of Salaman College, Lebak and Notre Dame of Kalamansig both of Sultan Kudarat province. Photos courtesy of Fr. Mario Combong

Two other priests in the Archdiocese of Cotabato succumbed to COVID-19: Fr. Loreto Sanoy, 77, parochial vicar of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in Cotabato City and Fr. Rex Bacero, 52, President of the Notre Dame of Salaman College in Lebak town and Notre Dame of Kalamansig, both in Sultan Kudarat

Sanoy died at 8:25 p.m. on Thursday and Bacero at 1 a.m. on Saturday.

They were separately rushed to the CMRC  last week after showing symptoms and later tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate announced the passinng of Mercado, whom it described as “one of our giants.”

The statement said Mercado died “due to heart attack” but narrated the priest’s ordeal  in the past three weeks as a COVID-19 patient.

Fr. Elseao “Jun” Mercado, OMI This was the last profile photo he posted on his Facebook page on April 23, 2021

The OMI said Mercado experienced COVID-19 symptoms at his residence at the OMI Novitiate in Tamontaka  and was admitted to the CRMC on May 8  where he was tested and found to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“For several days and weeks, he fought successfully against the virus and its symptoms in spite of many complications” and on May 22, a day before he died, had tested negative for COVID-19.

“Things seemed to go well and he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit of the CRMC to complete his recovery when suddenly around 3:20 p.m.. today, May 23, his heart stopped due to heart attack,” the statement read.

It added that attempts to resuscitate him proved futile. “His body finally gave up and was not responding anymore to any of the medical intervention being given to him. He was finally declared expired at 3:25 p.m.”

“His presence and contribution to the Philippine Province and to the worldwide community of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate will be sorely missed,” the OMI said.  (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)