Latest Stories

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.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Crime , Fausto Tentorio , John Corbala , Military , Murder , paramilitary

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. US teacher fired over comment on black president
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. Filipinos, Dane re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  4. Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  5. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Massive infra spending set
  8. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  9. Easter crucifixions draw huge crowds
  10. Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • 16 suffer burns in Batangas sugar factory accident
  • Angat level drops; cloud seeding set
  • Indigenous aspiration in Bangsamoro
  • Banahaw continues to lure pilgrims, trekkers
  • Passion of Christ moves survivors
  • Sports

  • Tottenham beats Fulham 3-1 in Premier League
  • Martino defends Messi, takes blame for Barca fail
  • Vettel hoping for resurgence at Chinese GP
  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Minnie Driver plays devastated mother to a stillborn child
  • Business

  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Learning by doing: pilgrimage of faith
  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • Marketplace