COTABATO CITY – Due to the consecutive deaths of three Catholic priests by coronavirus disease or Covid19 pandemic in the region, Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi has practically called on residents to strictly follow the health protocols imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emergence Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
The mayor posted on her Facebook page on Sunday, May 23 saying, “Please stay safe Cotabateños.” The precaution was based on the latest priest who died of the virus Fr. Eliseo Mercado, 72, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) congregation and former president of the Notre Dame University in this city.
“It pains me upon learning that Father Eliseo Mercado is now in the hands of the Lord. He was like a father to me,” Guiani-Sayadi said. Mercado died around 3:25 p.m. on Sunday at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (CRMC) where he was confined last May 8 due to the virus.
The friar succumbed to cardiac arrest while on his road to recovery, the OMI congregation said in a statement. Fr. Amador Castillo, a colleague of Mercado, said the latter was ready to go home after completing isolation at the CRMC when he experienced chest pains. He underwent a heart bypass operation many years ago and had a pacemaker.
Known as a peace advocate, Mercado was an expert in the role of Islam in the country, having studied and completed work in Islamic Studies and Arabic Studies at the Gregorian University in Rome and the Oriental Institute in Cairo, Egypt.
The other two Catholic priests who also passed away this weekend from Covid19 were Fr. Loreto Sanoy and Fr. Rex Bacero. Their remains were cremated and their urns were kept at the Archdiocese of Cotabato mausoleum here.
They were both members of the Diocesan Clergy of Cotabato (DCC) and tested positive for Covid19 and died one after the other on Friday night and Saturday dawn. Both expired while undergoing treatment at the CRMC isolation facility.
Fr. Ben Toreto, rector of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, said interment is yet to be announced as the congregation is yet to meet Monday with the families of Sanoy, 78 and Bacero, 52.