Colleague laments slow pace in Tentorio murder caseBy Germelina Lacorte
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The suspected masterminds in the murder of Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio a year ago remain scot-free despite the filing of charges against them, a fellow Italian missionary said.
Fr. Peter Geremia, chair of the Justice for Pops Movement, said the list of those charged in the Tentorio murder case had been modified and private prosecutors included lumad (indigenous people) paramilitary forces led by a Jan Corbala, also known as “Kumander Iring.”
Geremia, who, like Tentorio, belongs to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, said that based on accounts of new witnesses prosecutors had secured, Corbala had led the group that executed the military-funded plot to assassinate Tentorio, who was fondly called Fr. Pops by the locals.
The Eastern Mindanao Command had repeatedly denied involvement in the killing of Tentorio.
Geremia, who replaced Tentorio as Arakan parish priest, lamented the slow development in the murder charges filed against identified suspects, saying “it seems to be hardly moving at all.”
Police authorities, on the other hand, had “stopped the investigation,” Geremia said.
He said the JPM was urging President Benigno Aquino to disarm the paramilitary group allegedly involved in the killing and to expand the investigation to their military handlers and mastermind.
Tentorio was felled by an assassin’s bullets while preparing to leave the Arakan church compound on Oct. 17 2011.
At least three suspects, including the confessed gunman, had been arrested.
During his over three decades of missionary work in the country, Tentorio had fought for the rights of indigenous peoples against abuses.
Meanwhile, groups seeking justice for Tentorio, including the JPM, staged events on his first death anniversary, including a walk of protest from the Liwasang Bonifacio to Plaza Miranda in Manila; the lighting of 365 candles in Davao City; and a protest caravan and a protest concert celebrating Fr. Pops’ life in Kidapawan City.
A mass was also celebrated at the Bishop’s Residence in Kidapawan City, followed by a silent prayer protest outside the Regional Trial Court there.