Group hits slow justice for murdered priest after DOJ files case
The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) order to file a murder complaint against the killers of Italian priest Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio is long overdue, a human rights group said Sunday.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay lamented the slow pace of justice in the case of Tentorio, who was killed on October 17, 2011, by suspected members of the paramilitary group, Bagani.
“Tentorio was killed on October 17, 2011, yet authorities have only managed to seemingly complete the investigation and file charges for preliminary investigation more than six years after,” Palabay said in a statement.
The DOJ on Wednesday ordered the filing of a new murder complaint against Lt. Col. Joven Gonzales, Major Mark Espiritu and several others.
Tentorio was about to board his vehicle inside the Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish compound in Arakan, North Cotabato, when he was gunned down by then-unidentified suspects.
Tentorio, a priest who advocated for the rights of indigenous peoples, was the head of Tribal Filipinos Apostolate of the Diocese of Kidapawan and had organized lumad communities in Mindanao.
He was the third Italian Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) priest gunned down in Mindanao and the second in the Diocese of Kidapawan.
Palabay took exception from government authorities’ statement that Tentorio s death was a “plain and simple case of murder, devoid of any political motives of the military.”
“We reiterate that Fr. Tentorio was a victim of extrajudicial killing; he was targetted and killed in line with the State’s counter-insurgency program, one that employs militarist and deceptive measures to silence communities, progressive groups and individuals who work for comprehensive and meaningful societal change and does not distinguish combatants from civilians,” Palabay said.
“His death was perpetrated by State actors, including paramilitary groups, which had remained in existence even after Marcos’s martial law. They are employed by the government to wreak havoc and state terror in communities nationwide,” she added.
She said that government’s denial of the political motivations behind Tentorio’s killing is “meant to evade accountability for its bankrupt and fascist policies, that has resulted to extrajudicial killings.”
“It is meant to project Tentorio’s case as an isolated incident, and hide the real motives and the long list of crimes of the Philippine government and military in as far as suppressing all forms of opposition to exploitative policies and programs,” she stressed. /cbb
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