Militiaman surfaces as witness in Fr. Pops’ slay


Italian priest Fausto “Pops” Tentorio. PHOTO FROM BARUG KATUNGOD

DAVAO CITY—“If you see Fr. Pops, kill him.”

This was the alleged order of Commander Iring, head of an anticommunist militia called Bagani Force, to his ragtag group of tribal warriors.

Human rights groups have identified John Corbala, alias Commander Iring and a member of the Manobo tribe, as one of the perpetrators of the murder of Italian priest Fausto “Pops” Tentorio inside the compound of his parish in Arakan, North Cotabato, on October 17 last year.

A witness, accompanied by Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan, surfaced to say that he was a member of the Bagani Force and was present at a meeting where the murder of Tentorio was planned.

The witness said Corbala announced during the meeting that the militia had received P50,000 from the military for the operation to hunt Tentorio down. The military denied having a hand in the killing.

“We were told that Fr. Tentorio must be killed because he is supporting the New People’s Army,” the witness said.

The witness added that he was reluctant to take part in the operation against Tentorio because he knew the priest to be helping tribal communities in Arakan.

“Commander Iring (Corbala) disarmed me and told me that he would kill me if I reportred to Fr. Tentorio,” the witness said.

The group of Corbala disappeared after the meeting. On October 20, or three days after the killing of Tentorio, Corbala came back and spread the news to his followers about Tentorio’s death, the witness said.

The witness said he was among those who were told by Corbala about the death of Tentorio.

The Bagani Force is a militia composed mostly of tribe members and trained as an auxiliary for the military in the counter-insurgency campaign.

“We were given military training inside our camp by military personnel,” the witness said.

The militia maintains a camp in Sitio (settlement) Kamanagan in Arakan, the witness said.

The military denied the allegations. Lieutenant Nasrula Sema, civil military operations chief of the 57th Infantry Battalion, said there was no truth to allegations that the military was the source of the funds for the operation to hunt Tentorio.

Sema also denied that the military organized the Bagani Forces.

Human rights groups pointed to the Bagani Force and the military as perpetrators of Tentorio’s murder.

The Eastern Mindanao Command repeatedly denied funding or training any tribal militia in Arakan.

Justice Undersecretary Baraan, who personally met the witness, said the justice department would conduct an investigation. “There will be no cover-ups,” said Baraan.

The witness has been placed under the Witness Protection Program, he said.

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  • jeffrey_01

    No more Palparan clones?

    • m1600

      there will be more Gen. Palparan as long as the CPP/NPA brutalized the people who are against them. 

      • David

        Wrong. It is actually the AFP which brutalizes the people, especially people living  in remote mountain villages. It is already common knowledge that poor peasants and indigenous tribesmen are supporting the NPA rebels against the AFP because they knew that the AFP is an instrument of landlords and foreign mining companies, the people’s oppressors. 

      • Lolo Mo

        Absolutely true. I will say nothing more.

      • David

        Ang nakakatawa lang ay ang patuloy ninyong paglubid ng kasinungalingan at may mukha pa kayong umasta na kayong mga militar ang tagapagtanggol ng mga mamamayan sa kabila ng katutuhanang kayo ang mga tagapatay at taga-harass ng mga mamamayang nakikipaglaban sa interes ng mga malalaking landlords at kapitalista. Mahiya naman kayo! Nagto-troll pa kayo dito para lang lituhin ang mga tao.

      • Lolo Mo

        There are bloggers here who are employees of the military for the Psy-war.

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    Palparan is one of the clones at ang source ay tinuturo na ng witness! sino ba ang may numero uno intensyon na lipulin ang mga NPA at pati na mga non-combatant na supporters at mga sibilyan na pinaghihinalaan na sumusuporta, kahit ito ay estudyante, manggagawa, professional or galing sa religious sector……….Ano ang pakinabang ng mga militia groups na ito at saan nanggagaling ang kanilang mga tulong lalo na ang pinansiyal? So, sino pa ang dapat sisihin at pagtuunan ng masusing imbestigasyon? Sir, yes sir!!!!!

  • Paglaya

    “The military denied having a hand in the killing.” <– ano pang bago dito? Yun lang kasi ang kaya nila, yung mga walang armas. AFP BERDUGO! PROTEKTOR NG MINAHAN, KAPITALISTA AT HASYENDERO!

  • virgoyap

    So the accusation of  Rep. Colmenares that the clones of Palparan in the military are still very alive is absolutely correct.

    • Lolo Mo

      Remember that U.P. Professor who was merely gathering indigenous herbal plants was summarily killed even when he was mortally wounded and begging to spare his life. It was fortunate that one of his companions who pretended to be dead was able to reveal what really transpired. Otherwise, the military will blame the NPA to be the perpetrator.

      • virgoyap

        Thanks for sharing this gruesome happening…

  • Lolo Mo

    He he he. The military Generals, as per command responsibility has shown their real self again. Stupid Generals. Nakakahiya kayo. The ghost of Jahbida massacre has risen from the grave. Same pattern. The military would train unsuspecting victims to commit the crime for them. The operation to reclaim Sabah has backfired, thus the military has to murder those Muslim trainees who does not want to cooperate. But this time, it is not a territory they want to take back but the life of a foreign priest who was vocal against mining ventures in the South. He he he. Ano kaya na naman ang palusot ng ating Filipino-Chinese government?

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