Slain Catholic priest Jesus Reynaldo Roda is buried Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008 in Shariff Kabunsuan province in southern Philippines. Roda is killed by the Abu Sayyaf in Tawi-Tawi’s South Ubian town during a failed kidnapping. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Mark Navales)
COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 23, 2008) – A Filipino Catholic priest killed by Abu Sayyaf militants during a kidnapping attempt in the southern Philippines was buried on Wednesday in his hometown in the Muslim province of Shariff Kabunsuan.
Oblate priest Jesus Reynaldo Roda was peppered with bullets by militants after he resisted the kidnapping July 15 in the remote village of Likud Tabawan in South Ubian town in Tawi-Tawi province.
Roda was killed outside his convent at the compound of the Notre Dame High School, where he also served as its director. The Abu Sayyaf kidnapped a teacher, Omar Taup and seized another Muslim villager as they escaped from pursuing policemen.
Hundreds of villagers and sympathizers, many were weeping, gathered at the Oblates cemetery in Datu Odin Sinsuat town where the priest was laid to rest.
Father Rito Daquipil, head of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate mission in Tawi-Tawi province, said the Abu Sayyaf raided the convent. He said the militants then tied Roda’s hands and then dragged outside the convent where he was shot in the head after resisting the kidnapping.
Roda was praying when the militants, about 10 of them armed with rifles and handguns, seized the priest and dragged him outside the chapel, Daquipil said.
“We are all sad. Father Roda was a good man and loved by everybody. He was there doing missionary works with our Muslim brothers and sisters for the past ten years,” Daquipil said.
Security forces have mounted a massive search for the gunmen, but failed to locate them and their hostages.
It was not the first time that the Abu Sayyaf killed a Catholic priest. In 2002, militants also kidnapped, tortured and killed a Claretian priest Roel Gallardo in Basilan province, several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City.
In 1997, the Abu Sayyaf also assassinated a Catholic bishop Benjamin de Jesus in Jolo town in Sulu province. He was shot several times outside his church in a broad daylight attack.
Three years later, the Abu Sayyaf also ambushed a Catholic missionary, Benjamin Inocencio, in Jolo town while buying gifts for poor Muslims. The Abu Sayyaf also randomly attacked and bombed Catholic churches in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and in Mindanao the past decade.
The Abu Sayyaf, which means “Bearer of the Sword,” was originally fighting for a separate Islamic state similar to Afghanistan, but resorted to banditry and kidnappings for ransom after its Libyan firebrand founder, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, was killed in 1998 in a firefight with policemen in Basilan province. (With reports from Mark Navales and Nickee Butlangan)