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PIA Press Release

Priest's killers may have resented church fundraising, says Laoag bishop

Laoag City (19 September) -- Bishop Sergio Utleg believes that those behind the killing of Pinili Parish priest Florante Rigonan was driven by serious resentment because of the funds that the priest received from a benefactor to put up a new church.

Citing a police theory behind the murder, Utleg said it was very possible that some people or relatives of Rigonan's benefactor resented that money were flowing to the construction of a new church.

"Perhaps they believe that the money should go to them (relatives) and not to the church," Utleg said.

Utleg said there was no other possible motive that could cause the life of Rigonan.

The bishop said that up to 90 percent of the funds that were used to build a new church in Pinili came from the family of Florencio Macalma whom Rigonan last visited on the night that he was murdered.

The church, which is now being used by parishioners, began construction last year.

Rigonan went to Macalma's house for dinner and a prayer service on Tuesday night. The priest had just left the Macalma residence and was walking towards his van when he was shot.

The priest was supposed to return the next day to Macalma's house to say a mass.

The police theory is that he has a benefactor for the building of a church in Pinili. It is very possible that some people, maybe relatives who think that the money should go to them and they resent that it was given to the church.

I believe that is the motive in the absence of any other believable theory. That could be very possible.

There was a new one that was built beside the old church. The funds came from the Macalma family, at least 80-90% came from them.

Construction started last year.

Utleg heard mass at the Macalma residence because Rigonan held a prayer service for the family. The next day was supposed to be the mass. But since he was killed, I volunteered to say the mass.

Plans of the diocese: To pray for him amd bury him properly. We will seek for justice hoping that the perpetrators would be apprehended because if they did it once, they could do it again.

I have faith in the efficiency of the police force. We will not interfere with the investigation and let the process go naturally.

Chilling effect to the priesthood?

It will not affect their work. We will not be cowed by this incident. We will continue with work as usual and go to the villages. (PIA) [top]

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