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Fr Madhu’s case made “a little progress,” says SVD

MANILA, July 20, 2007—After more than 100 days of the killing of Indonesian missionary, Fr. Fransiskus Madhu, in the northern Philippines, the case has made “a little progress,” say his superiors.

Fr. Jerome Adriatico, SVD, provincial superior of SVD northern Province, to which Fr. Madhu, 30, belonged, said in a statement that the investigation case of slain priest has not made much headway after three months.

Fr Madhu, SVD, a native of Ende on Indonesia's predominantly Catholic Flores Island, was gunned down on April 1 while preparing for Palm Sunday Mass at Mabongtot Elementary School in Lubuagan, Kalinga province.

Another SVD priest Fr. Agercio Orbos, mission secretary of SVD central province said, “I just came from Tabuk, Kalinga, the place where Fr. Madhu, walked the earth for the Lord prior to his death. It has been three months now since he was murdered. There have been a lot of talks, a lot of promises, a lot of press releases regarding the solution of his murder, but up to now, they are just talks.”

“We are still praying, hoping and working for justice. Or shall we, as many do in our country, ‘just make this’ while the leaders of our government continue talking and talking?” he added.

According to police, a farmer from the northern province of Kalinga, Nestor Wailan, alias Sukman, and other three men shot him five times with an M-16 Armalite rifle. They have been held as suspects. The case is still under investigation and the motive of the killing has not yet been established.

On account of this, SVD priests have been expressing serious concern about the case of Fr. Madhu.

Last month, SVD superior delegate in the Philippines, Fr. Dante Venus, urged SVD foreign missionaries and associates to be “careful” in the country in the backdrop of recent abductions and extra-judicial killings.

Fr. Venus said there is no need to get frightened being missionaries in the country, rather go on to spread the Gospel of Jesus. He was addressing local and foreign missionaries at a meeting held at Christ the King Mission Seminary, June 17.

It is good to be cautious in the wake of recent abduction of the Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi, (57) a Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) missionary, Fr. Venus said.

About 15 Gunmen abducted the priest on June 10 while on his way to celebrate Sunday Mass in a remote village in Zamboanga Sibugay, according to police.

Media reports say a group of Indonesian Catholics staged a demonstration before the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta on July 10, exactly 100 days after of killing of Fr. Madhu.

A statement read by a protester during the two-hour rally asserts, "To uphold human rights, we demand the Philippine government expedite the murder case of Fr. Madhu.”

About 150 Catholics, including one priest and two Religious sisters, from a group called Solidaritas Kemanusiaan (human solidarity), joined the protest initiated by Advocacy Service for Justice and Peace in Indonesia (PADMA, Indonesian acronym). The Society of the Divine Word set up PADMA as a legal service in 2002.

Noting that "the action of taking someone's life is an intolerable violation of human rights," the statement also says the protestors were especially upset because the priest had been killed while preparing for a religious service.

Yuventus Newin, a PADMA leader, told his fellow protestors, "We come to Philippine embassy to demand that the government bring the suspects to trial because now they are free to go around the country and create anxiety." (Santosh Digal)