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EU, Italy press justice for Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio

December 8, 2011 ·  By TJ Burgonio, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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EU, Italy Press Justice for Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio

Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio

In the absence of strong leads on the Oct. 17 murder of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, officials from the European Union and the Italian Embassy in Manila on Thursday pressed the Philippine government to step up efforts to unmask the killing’s perpetrators and for media not to forget his case.

“We will be absolutely satisfied when the names of the perpetrators come out,” said Italian Ambassador Luca Fornari during a dialogue with media on extrajudicial killings, that included Tentorio’s case, at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Close to two months after the Italian missionary was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men near his convent in Arakan, North Cotabato, police have not made progress on the case, apparently hobbled by the lack of witnesses.

Authorities have been looking into different angles behind the killing of Tentorio, a fierce defender of indigenous peoples, including the possible involvement of the military, paramilitary groups, local politicians and multinational companies.

Guy Ledoux, head of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, said a “strong, effective, enforceable and accessible justice system” was crucial to deterring extralegal killings.

“If justice is done, by means of a thorough and fair process and followed by the conviction of criminals, this will send a strong signal to potential perpetrators that they will be punished for their crimes,” he said.

“If the culture of impunity is broken, the scourge of extralegal killings and of other human rights violations will come to an end,” he added.

Fr. Giovanni Re, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) and Tentorio’s fellow missionary, made the same appeal to the government.

“Please increase your effort to look for the real mastermind behind the killings. We will never know the real reason unless we get those who were behind the killing,” he said. Bishop Broderick Pabillo agreed: “If we can’t solve this, people will have courage to do this.”

In a statement she read later, CHR Chair Loretta Ann Rosales said the perpetrator was still on the “run” and hoped that Tentorio’s “noble sacrifice” would spur the government to adopting “zero tolerance policy” toward extrajudicial killings.

“We must all stand against this climate of impunity. We must all claim justice for Father Fausto and for all the victims of human rights violations worldwide,” she said.

Fornari said he deeply appreciated Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s gesture of sharing information on the case with him on President Aquino’s instruction, saying this was a clear sign of the government’s resolve to break the culture of impunity.

“This has never been done before by the Philippine government,” he said.

The Italian Embassy is holding an awareness campaign for Tentorio at 6 p.m. on Saturday, International Human Rights Day, to keep his case from being forgotten.

“We’re not ruling out the involvement of the AFP” in the Tentorio case, said Jose Manuel Mamauag, CHR commissioner.

Mamauag cited accounts that Tentorio had witnessed the seizure of firearms at a checkpoint that a military officer later took.

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