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Lone gunman kills Italian priest in North Cotabato


(UPDATED 5:57 p.m.) KIDAPAWAN CITY – An Italian priest was gunned down inside the compound of the Mother of Perpetual Help parish church in Arakan, North Cotabato at around 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Father Fausto Tentorio of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) was preparing to go about his duties for the day when he was shot and killed by a lone gunman.
File photo of Fr. Fausto Tentorio from PIME-Philippines blog
Arakan municipal councilor Leonardo Reovoca, a former parish worker of the Diocese of Kidapawan, said the priest was a staunch anti-mining advocate. “I am a witness to Father Fausto’s strong stance against mining and other projects which are unsustainable and would harm the indigenous peoples in particular," said Reovoca. Reovoca said the priest was about to board his pickup truck when the gunman shot him twice in the head. Witnesses said the suspect was wearing a crash helmet and walked away casually from the scene of the crime to a motorcycle, parked just a few meters away from the church compound. Reovoca said "since the suspect was wearing a helmet, nobody was able to recognize his face." The victim was supposed to attend on Monday the regular clergy meeting of the Diocese of Kidapawan at the Bishop’s Palace in Kidapawan City when the incident happened. The police are still determining the identity of the killer and the motive for the crime. At Camp Crame, National Police chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome directed Police Regional Office 12 head Chief Superintendent Benjardi Mantele to form a task force to probe the killing. Bartlome said the task force will be composed of investigators from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 12, Cotabato Provincial Police Office and the Scene of the Crime Operatives Region 12. Shock Meanwhile, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Luca Fornari expressed his shock over the incident. "An Italian priest was shot at daytime while doing his duties. I can not understand why. I have not met him but I heard good things about him, he’s doing extraordinary work there and he has been giving a lot of help to the indigenous people and the poor people there, providing them with opportunities for education, livelihood and agriculture," Luca said of the victim. Luca said the Italian Embassy in the Philippines has been reminding Italian priests and missionaries to be very careful when traveling to Mindanao. He said the police have been very helpful and have done their best to protect the priests and missionaries. "We have an existing travel advisory in the Philippines. We have been asking our nationals not to go to Mindanao, specifically in dangerous areas. We have been discouraging the priests and the missionaries, but most of the time they disregard this because for them their mission and helping the people is more important," Luca said. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, on the other hand, said, "We condemn in the strongest terms the murder of Father Tentorio, an Italian missionary who have been serving the community in North Cotabato for many years." "We offer our sincerest condolences to his congregation. We call on the police to immediately bring the perpetrators of this dastardly act to justice." Del Rosario said. Killing of another Italian priest In the 1980s, the killing of another Italian priest, Father Tullio Favali, in the same province also made the headlines. Data from GMA News Research shows that on April 11, 1985, Edilberto Manero shot dead Favali in Tulunan, North Cotabato.
Father Tentorio 3rd Italian PIME priest murdered in PHL
The Italian priest Father Fausto Tentorio, who was gunned down in North Cotabato on Monday, was the third priest in their congregation who was murdered in the Philippines. Tentorio, a member of the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME or Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), was shot and killed by a lone gunman inside the compound of the Mother of Perpetual Help parish church in Arakan at around 7:30 a.m. on Monday. According to the PIME Philippines blog, two other Italian members of their congregation were murdered before Tentorio — Father Tullio Favali and Father Salvatore Carzedda. Read more
Earlier that day, the Manero brothers -- Edilberto, Norberto Jr., and Elpidio -- had conspired to kill a number of suspected communist sympathizers. Among those whom the group suspected of having links with the communist movement was Fr. Peter Geremia, an Italian priest. They agreed that should they fail to kill Geremia, they would kill another Italian priest in his stead. Hours later, the group spotted Favali, who had just arrived on his motorcycle. Like the latest victim, Geremia and Favali also belong to the PIME Fathers. When Favali entered a house, Norberto Jr. dragged the motorcycle to the center of the highway and set it on fire. This prompted Fr. Favali to approach him but Edilberto reportedly cut in and shot the priest. Edilberto trampled on Favali's body and fired again, shattering the priest's head. Norberto Jr. picked up the victim's brains and mockingly displayed them to horrified spectators. The rest of the gang, including a third Manero brother, Elpidio, stood by, laughing and heckling. On January 25, 2008, Norberto Jr., the convicted priest-killer, walked out of minimum security compound after almost 23 years of incarceration. A report of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in February 2008 said priests and nuns welcomed Norberto Jr. at a prayer service in the chapel of the Bishop’s House. Norberto Jr. renewed a 2005 pact he signed with the diocese of Kidapawan vowing that he would not return to the violent life he led in the 1980s. “I must be the happiest now that I have been welcomed and forgiven," Manero said in the CBCP report. - with GMA News Research, VVP/HS/RSJ, GMA News
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