DOJ orders filing of new murder charge vs 2 AFP officers over Italian priest’s slay
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the filing of a new murder complaint against two military officers and several others, including two Manobo tribesmen identified with North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, for the killing of Italian missionary Fausto Tentorio six years ago.
Describing it as “plain and simple murder,” Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong on Wednesday said Tentorio’s supposed affiliation with leftist groups was “not important” in the reinvestigation they conducted into the Oct. 17, 2011, killing of the Italian Catholic priest.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II had earlier issued Department Order No. 208 directing Ong to revisit the case after the indictment of several persons implicated in the killing was stalled.
“We hope we have somehow partly given justice to Father Tentorio,” Ong told reporters.
He said at least 20 soldiers belonging to the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion based in Makilala town, North Cotabato province, took part in planning the killing of Tentorio, who was gunned down by a lone assassin inside the compound of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Arakan.
The communist New People’s Army (NPA) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front had previously supported the claims of residents and local church workers that the military had orchestrated Tentorio’s murder.
“You have no reason to kill a person who is not a combatant. It is plain murder,” Ong stressed. “There’s no politics (in his killing). It has nothing to do with the NPA. It’s simple murder.”
Recommended to be charged were Army Lt. Col. Joven Gonzales, Major Mark Espiritu, Jimmy Ato, his brother Robert Ato, Jan Corbala, Nene Durado, Kaing Labi, Joseph Basol, Edgar Enoc, Romulo Tapgos, William Buenaflor and a certain alias Katong.
The Ato brothers were said to be members of a paramilitary group called “Bagani.” Catamco had earlier admitted that she had provided them with a lawyer.
The new complaint, however, will still have to go through a regular preliminary investigation, Ong clarified.
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