08/03/2019 Philippines (International Christian Concern) – A pastor from the United Church of Christ in Philippines (UCCP) was killed in Antipas, Cotabato Friday morning, according to the police.
The victim was identified as Ernesto Estrella, 51, a pastor who was serving at an UCCP church, married, and lived in Davao City.
Antipas police chief Joven Alisasis said Estrella was on his motorcycle returning from Barangay Magsaysay, where he had visited his relatives when he was interrupted and shot point blank around 9 a.m. by one of two suspects on a motorcycle.
According to his relatives, the pastor had no known enemies, though he was known to be affiliated with activist groups.
“We are verifying information that he had been actively attending anti-government rallies,”Alisasis said.
UCA News reports that several Catholic and Protestant church leaders have earlier complained of harassment by state agents for criticizing government policies, especially related to human rights.
Killing of Christian leaders seems to be on the rise under President Duterte’s administration – there were four Catholic priests shot in the Philippines between December 2017 and June 2018. At least three priests also received death threats in recent months for criticizing Duterte’s drug war.