Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Philippines vows to get killer of Italian missionary

An undated photo of Italian priest Fausto Tentorio from the blog of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 18, 2011) – Philippine leader Benigno Aquino ordered security forces to get the killer of an Italian missionary who was shot dead by a lone gunman in a daring attack in the restive region of Mindanao.

The assailant attacked Rev. Fausto Tentorio on Monday as he was about to board his vehicle outside a Catholic convent in the town of Arakan in North Cotabato province.

The priest, a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was shot several times by the gunman who escaped after the killing on a motorbike.

Militant groups and human rights activists blamed government militias for the killing of Tentorio, who was a known anti-mining advocate and defenders of indigenous tribes in the province.

“Regardless of who did the crime, they will have to pay. That has been the direction of this administration from the start. You do the crime, you will be in jail,” Aquino told journalists during a chance interview in Manila.

In Mindanao, the military also mounted its own investigation into the killing, but there have been no new information on who was behind the murder.

“We are still gathering intelligence about the murder. We condemn this attack on an innocent priest,” Colonel Noel dela Cruz, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said they are in constant contact with lay leaders and other civic groups to help capture Tentorio’s killer or mastermind. “At the moment we still don’t know the motives of the killing,” Dela Cruz said.

Filipino Bishop Romulo dela Cruz called on authorities to solve the murder. “I am calling on the police and military to solve this killing immediately,” he said.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the murder, but Tentorio was the third Italian missionary killed in Mindanao since 1985.

Father Tullio Favali, also a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was also killed by a government militia Norberto Manero, Jr. in North Cotabato’s Tuluan town on April 11, 1985. And Father Salvador Carzedda who was killed in 1992 in Zamboanga City, and in August 2001, gunmen also shot dead Father Rufus Halley, an Irish Columban priest, after a failed kidnap attempt in Lanao del Sur province in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

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