New testimonies in Italian priest’s killing presented-A A +A
Thursday, July 19, 2012
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Italian priest Peter Geremiah of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (Pime) has presented new testimonies in the killing of his fellow missionary, Father Fausto Tentorio.
Tentorio was shot and killed by unknown assailants inside the compound of the Mother of Perpetual Help parish in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato, on October 17, 2011.
Geremiah said new witnesses to the killing of Tentorio surfaced three months earlier, prompting the filing of charges against a certain Jan Corbala in April 2012. Also charged were four members of Corbala’s group.
Corbala is known in Arakan town, North Cotabato as “Commander Iring” of the Bagani, a group of armed natives operating in the hinterlands as guides and informants of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Geremiah said the Bagani group is also carrying the name, "Alamara."
Charges were also earlier filed against Jimmy and Robert Ato who were arrested in December 2011.
The Sampulna brothers, meanwhile, were excluded from the charge sheet by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Task Force Tentorio of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Soccsksargen region after one of the witnesses retracted his accusations against the suspects.
Geremiah, in a forum in Davao City, questioned the reason why the PNP and NBI did not investigate the possible involvement of the Bagani in the killing.
He said a copy of an updated report on Tentorio’s murder says among other things that the Bagani does not officially exist as a unit of the AFP.
“How can we interpret the disclaimer that the Bagani does not officially exist? Is that a valid reason for not investigating them?” Geremiah said.
He said same group that allegedly masterminded the killing of Tentorio is still being used as guides in the military operations in North Cotabato.
The priest also hinted some influential people are “blocking” and “diverting” the investigations. He, however, refused to name them.
The NBI, until today, has not filed charges against those influential people mentioned by their new witnesses, he added.
“Corbala’s group has threatened witnesses they will burn churches and the tribal schools of the Pime in Arakan if charges against them would not be withdrawn. This sounded as a declaration of war and that nobody could stop them,” Geremiah said.
The Pime priest, however, sees a flicker of hope when he was told the Office of the Prosecutor in Kidapawan City has called on their witnesses to clarify their testimonies.
"We hope they will soon finalize their resolution of the case so that the court would issue warrants of arrests against Corbala and his group," said the priest.
In a three-page statement, the Geremiah has called on President Benigno Aquino III to disarm the Bagani; order all government agencies to expand and complete the investigation; and provide security to witnesses and their families through the Justice department’s Witness Protection Program. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 19, 2012.