Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, CMF

The young Filipino Claretian FR. RHOEL GALLARDO, with hardly six years of priesthood, was assassinated on May 3, 2000 after suffering a true Calvary. He was tortured by his captors who plucked out the nails from his hands and feet. His body was found with three bullets in his back.

The Moslem fundamentalists of the Abu Sayyaf group assailed the Claret School of Tumahubong, in Basilan Island, Southern Philippines, on March 20, 2000, taking as hostage Fr. Rhoel, four teachers and 22 students. After long negotiations between the rebels on one side and the bishop, Father Provincial of the Claretians and a Moslem Ulama on the other, they could not come to an agreement: their demands were totally unacceptable. The Philippine Army was forced to attack the rebel camp in the forest in order to rescue the hostages. They found the body of Fr. Rhoel with several bullet wounds and signs of the totures the Abu Sayyaf had inflicted on him. They also killed three teachers and five children.

In spite of the kidnapping of Fr, Blanco in 1993 and the burning of the Claret School of Tumahubong, as well as many other attempts of the Moslem extremists with bombs against the faithful in Catholic Churches, the Claretians still decided to continue their task, knowing that this was a high risk zone.