By MARTIN SADONGDONG
The primary suspect in the killing of a Catholic priest in Nueva Ecija last June 10 has been arrested by the police, the Philippine National Police announced Friday morning.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde confirmed the arrest of one Adell Roll Milan, who was one of the five suspects being investigated by the Central Luzon Police Regional Office (PRO-3) and the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Nilo.
Albayalde said Milan was arrested around 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Barangay Malapit, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.
He said the suspect was positively identified by one of the altar boys who witnessed Father’ Nilo’s killing.
Police are now investigating the four other cohorts of the arrested suspect.
Albayalde said among the motives being eyed by investigators are grudge over conflict in religion and the priest’s participation in helping a supposed rape victim.
Chief Superintendent Amador Corpus, regional director of PRO-3, said in a press briefing in Nueva Ecija that Milan admitted to police that he is a drug surrenderee while intelligence operatives said he is also a member of a notorious gun-for-hire syndicate operating in the province.
According to Corpus, Milan was one of the two motorcycle-riding suspects who shot dead Nilo at the altar of the Nuestra Senyora de la Nieve Chapel in Barangay Mayamot, Zaragoza Nueva Ecija last June 10. He was minutes away from officiating a 6 p.m. mass when the incident happened.
“Based on footages that we recovered, ilang beses nagpaikot-ikot sa mga chapels itong van and motorcycle. As early as 2 p.m. Sunday, the motorcycle and car was already surveilling the first barangay, entering Barangay Mayamot up to Barangay Valeriana. Palaga-lagare ‘yun,” Corpus explained.
Three of the lookouts even attended the Mass that Father Nilo officiated in Barangay Valeriana in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija hours before the incident and it is where he was supposed to be killed, Corpus said. However, they never had the chance to do so. Instead, they followed the priest to his next mass in Barangay Mayamot.
As to the possible motive behind the killing, Corpus said they are still eyeing Father Nilo’s active participation in resolving land dispute issues, in helping rape victims, and his staunch criticism of other religion’s wrongdoings.
Father Nilo was laid to rest on Friday noon with hundreds to thousands of supporters wearing black shirt as a sign of protest attending the funeral march.
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