Cops probing attack on Calamba priest seek caretaker of his farm | Inquirer News
‘PERSON OF INTEREST’

Cops probing attack on Calamba priest seek caretaker of his farm

SAN PEDRO CITY—The caretaker of a Nueva Ecija farm owned by the Catholic priest who survived an ambush last week in Calamba City is now a person of interest, according to police.

Investigators are looking for Rocky Bal-ot after the priest, Rey Urmeneta Jr., 64, told them that the caretaker owed him money for farm equipment he sold to him. The priest refused to tell police how much Bal-ot owed him.

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“This person allegedly wouldn’t pay up. [Urmeneta] believed he was the only one who may have a grudge against him,” Senior Supt. Kirby Kraft, Laguna police director, said on Monday.

2 bullet wounds

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Urmeneta, who is assigned to St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Calamba, was in his car with his secretary when a gunman approached them and shot him twice on June 6.

The priest survived two bullet wounds in the arm and back. He requested police investigators more time to recover before giving a statement.

Although this serves as the only “lead” the police have so far, Bal-ot is not yet considered a suspect but a person of interest in the case, according to Kraft.

“We don’t have evidence yet to back up what [Urmeneta] has so far given us,” he said.

‘Sensational’

On Monday, the Diocese of San Pablo in Laguna issued a statement condemning the attack.

“We call on our authorities to bring to justice those who did such action. We continuously pray for the immediate recovery of Fr. Rey (Urmeneta),” the diocese said.

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According to the statement, “Urmeneta was not incardinated to the Diocese of San Pablo, but has contributed to the pastoral needs of our faithful by performing his priestly ministry in some parishes in Calamba, Laguna. After his retirement as chaplain in the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, he opted to reside in Calamba.”

Under police guard

Urmeneta is staying at a private hotel in Batangas, guarded by four policemen. He had requested twice to be transferred from the hospital in Laguna to Batangas.

The police have yet to identify the gunman who was caught on CCTV.

Urmeneta, a retired police chaplain who had served in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region, hails from Cagayan Valley, according to police sources.

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TAGS: Rey Urmenta Jr., Rocky Bal-ot, slain priest
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