Gunmen Execute Catholic Priest Accused of Rape in the Philippines

Unidentified gunmen executed a Filipino Catholic priest in cold blood Sunday, Father Rene Bayang Regalado, shooting him repeatedly in the head.

The priest was facing a charge of rape in Lanao del Norte and police are reportedly investigating whether the rape case is tied to his killing.

Father Regalado was returning home to the seminary college of Saint John XXIII in the village of Patpat on the large island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines when the gunmen held up his vehicle on the quiet street, where they killed him, Vatican News reports.

The priests of the seminary immediately called the police, reporting that they had heard several gunshots around 19:30pm local time.

Father Regalado’s body was found was found near his car, a Chevrolet, down the street from the seminary. Police confirmed that was killed in the vicinity of the seminary “with several gunshots to the head.”

“His left eye was bruised as if it had been shot before his death. Fr. Regalado was already dead when we arrived,” said police sergeant Jeffrey Lloren.

A white shoelace was tied around the murdered priest’s left arm and police also found a Colt 45 pistol loaded with ten bullets and one loose bullet placed near the head of the slain priest.

Police investigators said Fr. Regalado had received death threats in relation to the rape charge brought by a girl who works as a volunteer for the parish office.

Father Regalado’s family has requested an autopsy on the body, which was taken to the Malaybalay City morgue Sunday night.

“The entire diocesan community of Malaybalay, the clergy, the consecrated and lay faithful, in particular the Regalado family in the parish of San Jose in Sinayawan are deeply wounded and saddened by the news of the premature passage to eternal life of a talented priest,” says a statement from the priest’s diocese, adding a wish that “those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Father Regalado was known familiarly as “Paring Bukidnon” (the mountain priest), since he often visited the most remote and isolated communities.

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