Father Cecilio Lucero, 48, was killed Sunday during an ambush by 30 men wearing ski masks. The priest was making his way to the city of Catarman in the northern region of the Philippines.
Fr. Lucero's was accompanied by Isidro Miras and police officer Eugene Bation at the time of the attack. Miras was critically wounded in the attack, while Bation was able to return fire, causing the assailants to flee.
Bishop Emmanuel Trance of Catarman urged officials to work to stop attacks on priests and Christian believers.
He said Father Lucero had received a series of threats because of his work in defense of human rights. The priest had publicly denounced the practice of vigilante executions that anonymous armed groups have been carrying out in the country. He was aware of the threats against him and for this reason he asked Eugene Bation, who is a police officer, to accompany him on his travels.
Police reports indicated that Father Lucero died of a gunshot wound to the head. “If it is possible to kill a priest in this way, this murder will cause terror among citizens,” Bishop Trance warned.