The priest who was brutally murdered in Bukidnon on Sunday night was also facing a case of rape in Lanao del Norte, and police investigators are trying to determine if the rape case is linked to his killing.
Lt. Col. Jerry Tambis, director of the Malaybalay City police, said that according to the initial investigation, Fr. Rene Regalado, 42 years old, received death threats in relation to the rape case leveled against him in Lanao del Norte.
Regalado was believed to have been shot dead at around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday on a private road near the Carmelite Monastery in Malaybalay City but his body was recovered more than two hours later after a policeman and his cousin passed by the area while on their way home.
Police said there was an indication that the victim was mauled before he was shot dead. Five gunshots were heard in the area according to witnesses. A white shoe lace was tied on his left hand and a gun was placed at the back of his head.
Records revealed that Regalado served as parish priest of Lala town in Lanao del Norte where he was charged with rape based on the complaint of a girl who works as a volunteer for the parish office.
“He was a native of Valencia City, Bukidnon and assigned in Bukidnon before he was assigned in Lanao del Norte. He had just returned from Lanao del Norte when this happened,” Tambis told the Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.
Rape is a non-bailable offense but Regalado was reportedly allowed to post bail.
Tambis confirmed that a .45 pistol was found at the back of the priest’s head, apparently placed by the gunmen after he was shot.
“It is not clear if he owns the gun or the suspects just left the gun in the area. We are still investigating the report that he owns a gun,” said Tambis.
Tambis said the initial investigation revealed that Regalado went to the Diocesan Formation Center in Barangay 10, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon at around 2 p.m. He was last seen alive in the area at around 7 p.m.
His car, a sports utility vehicle, was parked three meters away from his cadaver, according to Tambis.