Priest says suspect himself pointed to Catamco as protector | Inquirer News

Priest says suspect himself pointed to Catamco as protector

12:12 AM August 21, 2015

DAVAO CITY—An Italian priest who had accused a legislator of protecting the suspects in the murder of Fr. Fausto Tentorio pointed to one of the suspects as the source of information about the alleged protection that the suspects are getting from the lawmaker.

Fr. Peter Geremia, PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), said he accused Rep. Nancy Catamco of protecting the suspects in the killing of Tentorio based on testimony given by one of the suspects, Jimmy Ato, to the House committee on human rights in 2013.

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Geremia said he did not make up the claim.

Ato, according to Geremia, testified at a hearing of the House human rights committee that he and the other suspects in the 2010 murder of Tentorio are getting help from Catamco.

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Geremia added that the 2013 testimony of Ato was not the first time the suspected admitted getting help from Catamco. Ato, Geremia said, had given the same statement to government prosecutors.

Catamco had denied coddling or protecting Ato and the other accused in the murder of Tentorio. She challenged Geremia to provide proof.

“There is no single shred of evidence that I coddle criminals,” she said in a text message.

“It is ridiculously absurd that I have been falsely accused of coddling criminals,” Catamco added, challenging Geremia to produce proof.

Replying to Catamco, Geremia said what was needed is just a review of the May 22-24, 2013 hearing of the House human rights committee during which Ato pointed to Catamco as his and the other suspects’ protector.

The hearing was held here. Geremia also pointed to a supposed statement given by Ato to Al Calica, Central Mindanao regional prosecutor, thanking Catamco for the support that the legislator had been giving Ato and the other suspects.

Geremia recalled that during the House committee hearing here, Ato profusely thanked Catamco for the legislator’s help.

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“She said I have to produce proof,” Geremia said. “Dig it up from the proceedings,” Geremiadded.

He said when prosecutor Calica was getting the deposition of Ato, the suspect denied involvement in the murder of Tentorio and accused the National Bureau of Investigation, which also handled the murder case, of torturing him and forcing him to sign a confession.

Ato told Calica, according to Geremia, that Catamco, her staff and a lawyer associated with the legislator are helping the suspects.

“Both incidents are on record,” he said.

Geremia said Catamco never explained why she was protecting Ato and the other suspects.

“In her statement, Catamco never gave her reply to the statement that I made that she is giving assistance to the accused, so I reiterate my statement, and you may use my judicial affidavit on that,” said Geremia.

He said he has been pleading for the speedy resolution of the Tentorio murder case but it did not move.

“My question is, who is blocking the investigation of the

Fr. Tentorio case?” he said.

“If the case is not being resolved, killings are happening again as another farmer leader was killed the other day,” he said, referring to the killing in Arakan, North Cotabato peasant leader Joel Gulmatico.

Gulmatico, 58, was shot dead near the Army headquarters in Arakan town, the same town where Tentorio was killed, on Tuesday.

Norma Capuyan, chair of the group Apo Sandawa Lumandnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato, said Gulmatico opposed the entry of the military’s Peace and Development Outreach Program in Barangay Naje in Arakan. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Fr. Fausto Tentorio, Human rights, News, Political killings, Regions
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