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NPA hand in Cagayan priest’s killing ruled out

A task force formed to investigate the murder of a young priest in Cagayan has ruled out initial assessments that the New People's Army (NPA) could be behind the murder.

A police report released on Wednesday revealed the possibility that hired killers were responsible for Fr. Mark Ventura's death.

The 37-year-old priest was gunned down in cold blood by a helmet-wearing gunman who casually walked behind the victim while he was talking to choir members in a gymnasium in the municipality of Gattaran, a few minutes after saying Mass on Sunday, April 29.

The report also revealed that the manner and post execution response characterized by NPA hits were not present in the investigation.

Information from Chief Superintendent Mario Espino, Region 2 police director showed that the victim may have been embroiled in a "serious personal grudge" which can be resolved with digital forensic processing of his two cellphones.

Police added that Ventura's anti-mining advocacies which could also be a motive for his killing has also been eliminated since black sand mining in Cagayan has been stopped four years ago and people involved no longer has the capability and reason to pursue him.

Intelligence reports gathered by the Special Investigation Task Group from witnesses bared the trademark of a hired killer.

The suspects who were on board a motorcycle do not personally know the victim and have asked around for his whereabouts and his Sunday schedule, the report said. —KG, GMA News