Remembering Fr. Pops

“Four years later, all the supposed task forces and committees formed by the Aquino regime to look into the case were proven inutile.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – For indigenous peoples, progressives and advocates, the impunity in the killing of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio four years ago continues.

“Fr. Pops may not be a Filipino but he is one by heart. He offered his life working for the interest of the poor and the downtrodden,” Leaneza Dura, a teacher in the Fr. Fausto Memorial School in White Culaman village, Kitaotao, Bukidnon province, told Bulatlat.com.

Church people, indigenous peoples and progressives commemorated the fourth year since his killing in a humble program at St. Thomas Hall in Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City on Oct. 17.

Most of those who attended did not personally know Tentorio. As Sr. Becky Pacete MMS related, she only knew the Italian priest through stories from people whom he helped. She said that just the same, this has brought her “sadness, rage and strength to continue the work he has started.”

Dura said she was still a student when she met Tentorio, but shortly after, came his brutal killing. This inspired her to accept the offer to teach at a school run by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI), which it named in honor of the slain priest, some two years ago.

She leaves her family every week to go to work at the secondary school, which is a tiring, six to eight hour-trip by bus, plus another five to six hours of walk.

“But all the tiredness goes away as soon as I see the children,��� Dura said.

Last Oct. 1, the school received a letter from the White Culaman village chief Felipe Cabugnason, demanding its closure for its alleged links to the New People’s Army. This served as yet another attack on alternative learning centers for Lumad children, following the Sept. 1 killings in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

“It is really painful. Education is all I can offer to these children,” Dura, who is a BS Education graduate, said.

Similar to other alternative learning centers, Dura said, sustainable agriculture and health are their cornerstone programs in their curriculum.

In a statement, human rights group Hustisya said Tentorio continues to live in light of Lumad who continue to strive in their fight for their rights.

Hustisya said, “Justice would never be served if killings remain rampant. Four years later, all the supposed task forces and committees formed by the Aquino regime to look into the case were proven inutile. These were only formed as a show off that they have done their part when in reality, these all the more perpetuated the reign of impunity.” ()

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