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Italian priest the third from PIME murdered in Mindanao

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. A member of the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME or Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), Tentorio 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. All three missionary priests were murdered in Mindanao — Tentorio and Favali in North Cotabato and Carzedda in Zamboanga City. The latest victim, the 59-year-old Tentorio, is said to be a staunch anti-mining advocate who had previously received threats to his life.
File photo of Fr. Fausto Tentorio from PIME-Philippines blog
According to PIME Philippines, Tentorio, or "Father Pops" as he was popularly known, had a near-death experience during one of his visits to the indigenous communities or lumad in the town of Kitao-tao in Bukidnon province in 2003. In his own account about the incident, Tentorio wrote: "In the morning of October 6, 2003, I left the parish of Arakan, Cotabato at 8:00 o ‘clock together with four of our staff to visit some villages of indigenous people in the area of Kitao-tao, Bukidnon about 30 kilometers away." Concerned people informed him that armed men were waiting for him in Kitao-tao. "They told me that these men belong to the group called Bagani, that they come from outside the area, and that their intention was to harm me, specifically by throwing hand grenades at me while I am passing by. This information was not new to me. In fact, I heard it the day before," Tentorio wrote. Tentorio, who had been serving as a missionary in the Philippines since 1978, wrote that concerned citizens told him that the "Bagani" group would cut off his head, roast his ears and eat them. The people of Kitao-tao later hid him in a nipa hut as the Bagani group began searching for him and another man -- Isidro Indao, the vice chairman of the Tinananon-Kulamanon Lumadnong Panaghiusa (TIKULPA), a group that the PIME Fathers of Arakan Mission had organized and supported for many years. Tentorio later escaped after the residents diverted the attention of the Bagani group by inviting them to slaughter and roast a pig at another village. In a report about Monday's killing, the PIME said: "For over 32 years Fr. Fausto worked closely with the natives of the place, Manobos, training and organizing their small communities. He was answering to their everyday needs and hopes, but ‘answering’ also meant to address the local most powerful forces involved in properties and personal interests instead of local and universal brotherhood." Fr. Tentorio was born January 7, 1952 in St. Mary of Rovagnate and raised in Santa Maria Hoe’ in Lecco, Italy. He was ordained in 1977 and left for the Philippines the following year. He worked with Christian, Muslim and indigenous B’laan communities in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat before transferring to the mission in Arakan. The police are still determining the identity of the killer and the motive for the killing. Father Tullio Favali Like Tentorio, Favali was killed in North Cotabato, not in Arakan where the latest shooting incident happened, but in Tulunan town. Favali was born in Sustinente, Mantova, Italy, on December 10, 1946 and died on April 11, 1985 at the age of 38. According to GMA News Research, on the day of Favali's murder, the Manero brothers -- Edilberto, Norberto Jr., and Elpidio -- had conspired to kill a number of suspected communist sympathizers. They had targeted Father Peter Geremia, an Italian priest and also a PIME member. However, the group agreed that if they did not catch Geremia, they would go after any Italian priest. Later, the gang spotted Favali as he drove by on a motorcycle and stopped at a house. When the priest entered the 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, convicted priest-killer Norberto Jr. walked out of prison after almost 23 years of incarceration. Father Salvatore Carzedda Meanwhile, Carzeda was born in Bitti, Nuoro, on the island of Sardinia in Italy on December 20, 1943. He arrived in the Philippines in 1977. Fr. Carzeda was shot in the head and the body by two unidentified men on a motorbike on May 20, 1992 in Zamboanga City. The priest had just come from a conference of Christians and Muslims when, some 400 meters from the regional house of the PIME fathers, the gunmen overtook the van he was in. The killers were never identified. The PIME blog said nobody knows who was behind the murder because it was difficult to carry out the investigations. "The climate was tense and nobody was disposed to inquire among the fundamentalist groups of Muslims or local criminals. Too dangerous. For many the silence after the investigations appeared to be a better choice in order not to give a clear motive for ulterior actions of terrorism," the PIME site said. About PIME Founded in Italy in 1850, PIME is a congregation whose priests and brothers dedicate their lives to missionary work among non-Christians. PIME missionaries work among the poorest people in the world in 17 countries: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Ivory Coast, Myanmar, Mexico, The Philippines, Japan, Guinea-Bissau, India, Italy, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and the United States. The PIME Fathers have been serving remote communities in the Philippines since 1968. - YA, GMA News