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What Went Before: How Fr. Pops was killed

/ 05:00 AM December 30, 2011

Fr. Fausto Tentorio

Italian missionary Fausto Tentorio—fondly known as “Father Pops”—was gunned down in broad daylight at the Mother of Perpetual Help church compound in Arakan, North Cotabato, on Oct. 17, 2011.

Witnesses said the lone assassin, wielding a gun equipped with a silencer, shot the priest eight times as he was getting into his pickup truck outside a convent.

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The gunman, who wore a crash helmet, then casually walked to a motorcycle near the church compound and sped away with a companion.

The 59-year-old Tentorio, a staunch antimining advocate, was declared dead at the hospital, ending his years of service in Mindanao that spanned over three decades.

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He was first assigned to the Archdiocese of Zamboanga in 1978. He was transferred to the Diocese of Kidapawan in 1980 and assigned as mission administrator to the parish of Columbio in the province of Sultan Kudarat. In 1985, he was transferred to the mission station of Arakan.

Tentorio was the third Italian priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (Pime) in the Philippines killed in Mindanao in the last 26 years.

The first of the three was Tulio Favali, who was killed on April 11, 1985, by cult leader Norberto Manero in Tulunan, North Cotabato.

Manero, two of his brothers and four other accomplices barged into the San Isidro Labrador Parish, shot Favali 22 times and kicked and stomped on his fallen body. Witnesses said the killers also ate bits of the priest’s brain.

Manero was convicted of the killing and spent almost 23 years in prison before his release in 2008.

Seven years after Favali’s death, another Italian Pime priest, Salvatore Carzedda, was killed in an ambush by an unknown assailant in Zamboanga City.

Two Italian Pime missionaries, namely, Luciano Benedetti and Giancarlo Bossi, were abducted in Mindanao in 1998 and 2007, respectively.

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Benedetti was kidnapped from a farm near his parish in Sibuco town. He was freed two months later, reportedly after a P7-million ransom was paid.

Bossi was on his way to say a Mass when he was kidnapped by Moro guerrillas. He was released after 39 days.

Another Italian priest, Guiseppe Pierantoni of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, was kidnapped in Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur, on Oct. 17, 2001, while saying Mass.

At least six other foreign priests from different countries have fallen victim to armed groups in Mindanao since 1993.

Irish priest Desmond Hartford was abducted in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte, on Oct. 27, 1997, and freed 11 days later. Irish Columban missionary Rufus Halley was shot dead after resisting a kidnap attempt in Malabong, Lanao del Sur, on Aug. 28, 2001.

While on an after-dinner stroll, Irish missionary Michael Sinnott was kidnapped on Oct. 11, 2009, in Pagadian City. He was freed 31 days later.

Spanish priest Bernardo Blanco was driving to his parish in Matarling, Basilan, on March 18, 1993, when gunmen abducted him. He escaped after 48 days in captivity.

American priest Clarence William Bertelsman was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf on July 31, 1994, but rescued after several hours.

Belgian priest Bernard Maes was taken in front of a church in Marawi on Nov. 18, 1997, and freed two days later.  Inquirer Research

Sources: Inquirer Archives, PIME Missionaries: www.pime.org

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TAGS: Crime, DoJ, extrajudicial killings, Fausto Tentorio, Fr. Pops, Jimmy Ato, Justice, law, Military, Mindanao, Police, Tentorio Murder
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