NBI recommends murder rap vs 4 men for slay of Italian priest
MANILA, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said on Thursday it would recommend the filing of a murder charge against four men allegedly responsible for the 2011 killing of Italian missionary priest Fausto “Pops” Tentorio.
NBI officer-in-charge and lawyer Nonnatus Caesar Rojas identified the suspects to be charged for the killing as:
— Jimmy Ato, of Sitio Mahiwak-hiwak, Kulaman, Arakan, North Cotabato, the alleged gunman who was arrested by NBI agents December 29, 2011, by virtue of an arrest warrant for destructive arson with homicide issued by a local court;
— Jose Sultan Sampulna, of Dorulman, Arakan, North Cotabato;
— Dima Maligudan Sampulna, of Purok Rang-ayan, Lower Paatan, Kabakan, North Cotabato; and
— Robert Ato.
The NBI will recommend that the murder complaint be filed with the Kidapawan City, North Cotabato, Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
Ato executed a sworn statement state that he was part of the assassination team composed of the two Sampulnas and of Robert Ato. He claimed to have acted as a lookout in the killing after he was paid P1,500 by Jose Sampulna. Apart from Ato’s statement, the suspects were also identified by nine witnesses.
Rojas said that several other John Does, considered principals by inducement who conspired with the gunmen, were included in the recommendation for the filing of the murder charge based on the joint probe conducted by the NBI Koronadal regional and the Saranggani district offices as well as the regions 10 and 11 respectively in Cagayan de Oro and Davao Cities in coordination with the PNP’s Task Group Fausto.
The NBI officer-in-charge has said that Ato’s statements regarding the involvement in the killing of high-profile personalities are still being investigated. “Considering the gravity of the allegations implicating high-profile personalities in the assassination of Fr. Pops, a deeper probe is being undertaken by the task force to firmly establish these accusations of Jimmy Ato.”
Tentorio, parish priest of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Arakan town, was shot dead on October 17, 2011 inside the parking lot of the church compound.