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Human rights priest killed in ambush, 2 others wounded in Northern Samar

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 7, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY    The Philippine National Police in Region 8 is now making a thorough investigation on the ambush killing in the morning of September 6, of Rev. Fr. Cecilio Pelito Lucero, the Parish Priest of Catubig, Northern Samar.

Fr. Lucero together with two companions, was on board his brown Toyota super custom van going to the direction of the Capital town Catarman, when about 30 unidentified men wearing bonnets and armed with high-power arms ambushed them at the National Highway, near the cemetery of Barangay Layuhan, San Jose town, spot report of Northern Samar PNP, furnished by the PNP Regional Office 8 through a request to PRO 8 Director Mario San Diego, stated.

Fr. Lucero, 48, younger brother of former Northern Samar Representative Wilmar Lucero, and Northern Samar Vice Governor Antonio Lucero, sustained multiple gunshot wounds in the body and in the head causing his instantaneous death.

Fr. Lucero who is a well known human rights advocate, being the chairman of the Human Rights Desk-Social Action Center of the Diocese of Catarman, was brought to a hospital where he was pronounced dead and was autopsied by the doctors. His remains now lie in state at the Catarman Cathedral.

His companion, a civilian identified as Isidro Miras, sustained gunshot wounds in the body and in the head. A public utility jeep passenger, Jose Aguda, 17, of Rosario town also sustained a gunshot wound on his left foot. Both victims were brought to the hospital for medical treatment.

Reports stated that Police escort PO2 Bation managed to fire back at the attackers which prompted the armed men to scamper in different directions.

PNP Provincial Director, Police Senior Superintendent Mejos was reported to have immediately responded by going to the crime scene together with the operatives of the San Jose Police, to conduct police operations and investigation.

The PNP spot report said that the attackers are at large and the motive has not been established or remains unknown.

The PNP Northern Samar spot report indicated that Fr. Lucero and his companions were from Allen and on their way to Catarman when the incident happened.  Unconfirmed reports, however, said that Fr. Lucero came from Capul Island and was on his way back to Catubig when the ambush occurred.

From Allen, a traveler has to pass by the towns of Lavezares, Rosario, San Jose and Bobon before reaching Catarman.  From Catarman, a commuter has to pass by three municipalities before reaching the interior town of Catubig, 66.7km away from Catarman.