Mindanao loses a peace advocate after a bout with COVID-19May 25, 2021
COTABATO CITY – Mindanao has lost a peace advocate who died from cardiac arrest after a bout with COVID-19 on Sunday. He was 73.
Eliseo Mercado, Jr. of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate died Sunday afternoon at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CRMC), a government COVID-19 treatment facility in the city.
He was confined at the CRMC last May 8 after he tested positive for COVID-19.
His colleagues in the Oblate congregation, whose pontifical base is in Rome, said there were signs he would recover after he tested negative. But he succumbed to cardiac arrest Sunday afternoon.
Mercado had a lingering heart condition.
He also had a head injury due to an accident about five years ago and nearly died from blood clots around his brain that doctors removed via surgery.
Mercado, a known “pro-Moro priest,” was popular in Mindanao for having supported the crafting of the Sept. 2, 1996 peace pact between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
He also supported the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that paved the way for the setting up in 2019 of the MILF-led Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Mercado served as the parish priest of the pre-dominantly Muslim town of Datu Piang, Maguindanao. Until his death, he continued to be active in peace-building initiatives.
As president of Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, Mercado established the Institute of Peace Education.
Two priests belonging to the Diocesan Clergy of Cotabato, Loreto Sanoy and Rex Bacero, died one after another Friday also due to COVID-19 complications.
Sanoy served as parish priest in Cotabato City’s Rosary Heights Parish. Bacero was president of the Notre Dame of Salaman College in the seaside Lebak town in Sultan Kudarat.
They tested positive for coronavirus last week and, subsequently, got hospitalized for breathing problems, fever and body malaise.
PHOTO: Catholic missionary Eliseo Mercado, Jr. belonged to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation. (Contributed photo)