In Kawayan, Biliran

TACLOBAN CITY- A 75-year-old Catholic nun is safe and recuperating from surgery at an undisclosed hospital after surviving a gun attack in Barangay Burabod, Kawayan town in Biliran province.

The incident occurred on the evening of May 26 but was only reported to authorities on May 28.

Authorities identified the victim as Sister Maria Gemma Onipa, a member of the Lady of Peace missionary congregation which is based in Kawayan town.

“The local police have yet to identify the suspect and the motive of the crime,” a police officer, who requested anonymity as she is not authorized to speak to the media told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

But a relative of the victim said that they are eyeing land dispute as a possible reason.
“Our aunt has been helping people in our area who are in dispute on land ownership. It could be the reason why they shot her,” the relative said.

They declined to provide further details except to say that back in early 1990s, Sister Onipa was also attacked by an assailant using a knife.

The nun sustained several wounds on that slay try.

According to information released to the media by the Eastern Visayas police headquarters in Palo, Leyte province, about 126 kilometers from the shooting location, the suspect was described only as a male wearing a yellow jacket.

The shooting was witnessed by her 72-year-old fellow nun, identified only as Sister Ina.
“The victim and witness were inside their house watching a mass on TV when the suspect called out for the sisters outside the house. The witness checked the main door and saw an unidentified man looking for the victim,” the source said.

When Sister Onipa stood up from her chair and approached the main door, the suspect immediately shot her with a firearm of unknown caliber, hitting her in the back.

The victim was rushed to a hospital for medical treatment, while the suspect fled in an unknown direction.

According to the source, Sister Onipa is still in the hospital and not yet ready for media interviews.

Kawayan police have coordinated with nearby police stations to conduct dragnet operations for the possible identification and arrest of the suspect.