3 years after Fr. Pops’ murder, justice remains elusive

“Three years is too long for justice to be delayed. We will not accept this complacently; we fear that without public pressure, the case will remain unresolved, similar to the thousands of extra-judicial killings.” – Marie Sol Villalon of the Promotion of Church People’s Response

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — “Sayang, sayang.”

Fr. Antonio Abuan recalled how people felt a huge loss in reaction to the killing of Italian missionary priest Fausto “Pops” Tentorio three years ago.

Fr. Abuan, in his homily, said he found it unacceptable, even embarrassing, that a foreign priest who went all the way to Mindanao to serve and preach was killed.

In a statement, Rev. Marie Sol Villalon of the Promotion of Church People’s Response said that people still clamor for justice for Fr. Tentorio.

“Three years is too long for justice to be delayed. We will not accept this complacently; we fear that without public pressure, the case will remain unresolved, similar to the thousands of extra-judicial killings,” Villalon said.

Nardy Sabino of PCPR says it is the imperative of church workers to serve the poor. (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)
Nardy Sabino of PCPR says it is the imperative of church workers to serve the poor. (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)

At standstill

Villalon said that the “wheels of justice appear to be at a standstill in the Department of Justice (DOJ), with apparent ineptness, both in holding perpetrators accountable and in protecting witnesses.”

The killing of Fr. Tentorio was among the cases brought before the attention of Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III in a dialogue on Oct. 16.

Nardy Sabino, secretary general of PCPR said that in a recent case conference on Fr. Tentorio’s killing, DOJ undersecretary Baraan told families of victims and human rights advocates that a name of a new suspect cropped up.

Sabino, however, told Bulatlat.com that he was not optimistic on how the dialogue would really help hasten the proceedings, since several meetings with officials for the past three years were fruitless.

He said Fr. Tentorio’s killing is even among the high-profile cases being handled by a task force formed through the Administrative Order No. 35 to investigate cases of human rights violations.

The issue at hand, Sabino added, is not just about the resolution of the case but also how human rights violations continue unabated.

“If they can afford to be indifferent with Fr. Tentorio’s killing, how much more with ordinary citizens?” he said.

To serve the poor

Sabino said that it is not just a challenge but an imperative for church workers to be like Fr. Tentorio who served and live with poor.

“It is their imperative to share the kingly, priestly and prophetic role of Jesus Christ,” he said.

During the commemoration, the PCPR launched a campaign to bring church workers in solidarity with the poor and to make them serve as channel for the voices of poor Filipinos, 90 days before Pope Francis’ visit in the country next year.

The campaign would seek to draw attention to various social and political issues confronting Filipinos, such as, demolition of their homes, human rights violations and the impasse on formal peace talks. ()

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