trial stalled for a year

The only defendant in the 2011 missionary murder says he can’t afford a lawyer. Therefore, the court hearing was once again postponed, while the other defendants are still at large. P. Geremia: “The delaying tactic is obvious. And the lack of media attention favors impunity”.

Manila () – After more than 11 years, the path to justice for the death of Father Fausto Tentorio, the PIME missionary assassinated in Mindanao in October 2011, continues to be blocked and effectively denied. The p. Peter Geremia, brother and friend of Fr. Tentorio denounces the situation in the columns of the National Inquirer, the Philippine newspaper with the largest circulation, and from Kidapawan he continues to fight to clarify the truth about that death.

The Italian missionary was killed by a gunman wearing a motorcycle helmet inside the compound of the Mother of Perpetual Help Church, Arakan parish, in the province of North Cotabato, southern Philippines. At the time of his death, he had been working in remote and impoverished mountainous regions for more than 39 years, primarily defending the rights of the indigenous Manobo people of Arakan.

A little over a year ago -in December 2021- the investigation seemed to have reached a turning point with the arrest of Ricardo Borio Dorado, also known as Nene Dorado, whom a witness claimed to have seen that morning enter the complex armed. the parish. Dorado is one of seven people against whom Kidapawan judge Arvin Sadiri Balagot had already issued an arrest warrant on April 30, 2019 for the murder of Fr. Tentorio based on the statements of some witnesses who, in the weeks after the murder of the missionary, had pointed to Dorado and his Bagani militia as the instigators and perpetrators of the murder. But until December 2021, he continued to move around the area freely, just like the other defendants.

Dorado was summoned to trial on January 13, 2022 by the Kidapawan Regional Trial Court Branch 17 and was released on bail. But after the preliminary hearing, the process again stalled. “It is another case of justice delayed, of justice denied,” commented Fr. Jeremiah to the Inquirer. “The last hearing was held on October 13, the next one had been set for January 26, but the court postponed it because the suspect says that he cannot hire a lawyer. The delays are obvious. Aren’t these delaying tactics?”

Along with Dorado, Jimmy Ato, Robert Ato, Jan Corbala, Kaing Labi, Joseph Basol and Edgar Enoc were charged and all remain at large. The p. Jeremiah also explains that the lack of media interest in the case has fostered impunity. “Everyone seems to have forgotten,” he denounced. But he is hopeful that if the press pays attention to him again, the process will be revived.

Fr. Tentorio was the third PIME missionary to be assassinated in the Philippines in a few years. On April 11, 1985, also in Mindanao, Fr. Tulio Favali was brutally murdered by Norberto Manero, leader of a local fanatical group. Fr Salvatore Carzedda was killed in an Islamist ambush in Zamboanga City in 1992.

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Written by Editor TLN

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