Priest shot dead during mass in Cagayan

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 29) — A priest was killed while celebrating mass Sunday morning in Gattaran town in Cagayan.

Police identified the priest as Father Mark Ventura, who sustained two gunshot wounds  one in the head and one in the chest.

Gattaran police chief inspector Rodel Tabulog said the gunman, wearing a helmet and jacket, shot Ventura inside the gymnasium at past 8 a.m. in Brgy. Piña Weste.

The gunman then fled with his accomplice on a motorcycle.

Philippine National Police Region 2 director Mario Espino has ordered the creation of a special investigation task group to look into the case.

Tabulog said they are investigating the motive of the killing and who may be behind the attack.

Cagayan Police provincial director Senior Superintendent Warren Tolito said Ventura was and advocate of clean and honest elections, overseas Filipino workers's rights, and children's welfare.

Gattaran is about 95 kilometers north of Tuguegarao, the capital city of Cagayan.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) condemned the act against their fellow clergy.

"We make our appeal to the authorities to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice," the CBCP said in a statement.

The opposition Liberal Party likewise condemned the killing of the priest.

"We call on the authorities to capture and prosecute Fr. Ventura's killers as soon as possible and not treat Fr. Ventura's death as just another death under investigation," Liberal Party President and Senator Kiko Pangilinan said in a statement.

"We hope that Fr. Ventura's death is not a reflection of our nation's character in light of the recent actions of the government against Sister Patricia Fox -- an aid worker for the past 27 years who has been ordered kicked out of the country on baseless claims that she is out to besmirch the government," Pangilinan added.

CNN's correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.