They are trying to spin it that this was private vengence on drug pushers, but there is a problem: The priests involved tended to be supporters of the human rights of the local poor, (including land rights problems where the poor lose their land to the rich, and opposing polluting things like illegal logging and mines that destroy the environment) and the dirty little secret is that such activists (not just Catholic but laymen and Protestant clergy) have long been targeted by corrupt politicians.
The latest murder was of a priest in our area who was known for his sermons against drugs, according to local rumor.
The Inquirer notes this
Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, Central Luzon police director, said investigators were looking into three possible motives in Nilo’s murder—his involvement in land disputes in the province, his support for rape victims and abused children and filing of cases against the suspects, and his staunch criticism of other religions.
Rappler has some articles on why: an earlier murder of another priest was about supporting political activists and land rights.
so this has more to do with "business as usual" than with Duterte's war on drugs
At least 3 priests were killed in the last 6 months. In December 2017, Fr Marcelito “Tito” Paez was shot as he was driving home after facilitating the release of a political prisoner in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.
On April 29, 2018, Fr Mark Ventura, known for his anti-mining stance and close ties to indigenous communities, was shot dead by riding-in-tandem gunmen after mass in Cagayan.
On June 10, unidentified assailants gunned down Fr Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan as he was about to celebrate Sunday mass.
it is not, alas, common to kill the person standing in your way, be it your political rival (as in the hit that killed our nephew in the crossfire), or against "human rights" agitators who are blocking your business that destroys the livelihood of locals.
the problem? Duterte will be blamed because his war on drugs made it seem like one could get away with murder.
However, these type murders (political) in our area have been going on for a long time, and one wonders if the crooked politicians/businessmen behind the actual hits on these priests are trying stop those fighting the real problem: Corruption.
and hey, they will get their compadres and minions to spin the murders and blame Duterte, who is also fighting corruption, because Duterte is sarcastic about Catholics who back terrorists in Mindanao or lament more about dead druggies instead of preaching against politicians involved in the drug trade.
so the murders send a dual message: To priests: keep quiet about corrupt politicians who aid drug lords and take bribes to steal people's land, and as a bonus, they can get the press to blame Duterte for the murders, giving them a free pass by the clueless overseas MSM.
This is why Duterte was elected: To get rid of the crooks destroying the country.
Duterte was elected in early 2016, but lots of murders were going on before, and no one got upset. Heck, we couldn't even get the US Embassy to back us to pressure the gov't to arrest the mayor behind our nephew's murder, (there were rumors the mayor was gifting someone to delay his arrest).
Wikipedia article on political murders in the Philippines: 2001-2010....
Human Rights watch: Political killings in 2015.
Wikipedia on crime rates in the Philippines
crime and murder rates are actually down. LINK link2
Rappler on murder rates.2017
the PC anti Duterte press lament the druggies being killed, not just in police raids but by parties unknown.
But this last group (known dead criminals) might be off duty cop hit squads dispensing justice, or a hit by a drug gang against someone they think is ratting on them, or it might be a pay back vigilante murder by a family who got tired of waiting for justice.
and by implying that all murder is Duterte's fault it is only true because he isn't worried about dead criminals, but hey, in the past the murder rate was higher so it means that in the past, the politicians in charge lamented the deaths but then let the system chug along (i.e. delays, bribery, people escaping and can't be found).
the problem: here we have had half a dozen home invasion robberies that ended up with murder, the latest being a retired lady lawyer near here who answered the door early in the morning, thinking it was a beggar (which is why our cook instructed me not to open the door if no one is around).