Oblate priest Eliseo “Jun” Mercado Jr., known for his peace advocacy especially in the southern Philippines, succumbed to complications from COVID-19 in Cotabato City Sunday, May 23. He was 72.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing away of one of our giants … due to heart attack,” said the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in a statement.
The missionary congregation said Father Mercado was admitted to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center on May 8 after he tested positive of COVID-19.
“For several days and weeks, he fought successfully against the virus and its symptoms. Things seem to go well,” read the statement.
Father Mercado recovered and tested negative of the disease on May 22. He was at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital to complete his recovery when he suffered a heart attack.
Father Jun, as he was popularly known among colleagues and friends, was policy senior adviser of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance and was a major figure in the peace process in Mindanao.
He played a role in securing a ceasefire between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during 2000 war in the southern Philippines.
He was former president of the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City.
Father Mercado studied Theology and Missiology at the Gregorian University in Rome and Islamic Studies at the University of Cairo, Egypt.
For many years, he was parish priest in the predominantly Muslim town of Datu Piang, Maguindanao.
For his peace-building efforts, he received the following presidential citations:
- Presidential Award given by President Corazon Aquino for Outstanding Community Service
- Presidential Citation for Outstanding Service and Contribution to Peace given by President Fidel Ramos for his participation in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines-Moro National Liberation Front Peace Process and his Role in the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development Consultative Assembly
- Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Fellowship Award for Outstanding Community Service for his service and commitment to the Peace Process and Peace Building efforts in Mindanao.
He was formerly director of the OMI-JPIC Service in Rome where his expertise in “Peace Mediation and Islam” has led the OMI to the United Nations as an accredited NGO to the European Union through the Africa-Europe Faith Justice Network, and to the World Social Forum.