Editorial: One year-A A +A
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
THIS morning last year, as he was about to ride his tiny four-wheel vehicle outside the Mother of Perpetual Help parish church in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato, Father Fausto “Pops” Tentorio PIME was gunned down by a motorcycle-riding gunman who was just waiting there, like a beast of prey stalking its meal. Ten bullets felled the unarmed missionary.
There were shouts of anger, and the government even promised justice. One year hence, justice still has to be realized as the case drags on. The people who have stood by Father Pops through the years say there are unseen hands trying to stop the smooth development of the case. We tend to agree with them. For a missionary priest to be gunned down in cold blood means somebody’s personal interest has been compromised. Criminals are killed, drug addicts are killed, gangsters are killed.
These are regular fare in our police blotter reports. Anyone who is with a group who is protecting either a turf or a trade somehow ends up in front of the barrel of a gun. There are other people too, who get killed, and this time the killers tend to have very strong links to those in authority, they are those who stand up for their beliefs and, most recently, for the environment. Father Pops was both as he worked hand in hand with the poorest of the poor -- the Manuvus of Arakan -- to fight for their ancestral domain as well as to resist the incursion of mining, logging, and plantation companies. He was well-loved in the community but hated with vitriol by those who lust for the riches of the land and their lackeys among the indigenous people who have been enticed by power and money.
One year has passed, the issues that Father Pops have died for are still there and the indigenous people still stand to lose control of their lands as those in power only see the billions of pesos that can be derived from these and not the life-nurturing wealth that can sustain generations on end. It is ironic that the death anniversary comes a day after the celebration for a framework for peace.
While hope for peace is high, those who work for peace in peace are still held at the barrel of the gun.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 17, 2012.