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3 years after Italian priest’s murder, still no case in court, say friends

/ 08:20 PM October 16, 2014

NORTH COTABATO, Philippines—Three years after the killing of Italian priest, Fr. Fausto Tentorio, people demanding for justice over his death are still waiting for the determination of probable cause that would lead to the filing of charges in court.

Fr. Peter Geremia, convenor of the Justice for Fr. Pops Movement, expressed his disappointment over the sluggish pace by which the investigation— conducted by the so-called “superbody” to fast-track the case —has been done.

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The super-body Geremia was referring to was the Special Investigating Team for Unsolved cases or SITU, which was created through President Aquino’s administrative order 35 in 2012. The group was created supposedly to hasten the investigation of the unsolved cases of extrajudicial killings in the country, including that of Tentorio’s.

But Geremia said it has been three years since Tentorio was gunned down outside his parish here on October 17, 2011.

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Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio

Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio

“Where are the results? How much money have they been spending in all their investigations?” he asked.

The group “Justice for Fr. Pops Movement” has come up with a list of people they wanted to be included in the investigation, including the leader of the paramilitary group Bagani who has been roaming around Arakan, North Cotabato and Bukidnon. They also asked for the inclusion of the police and the military officials who had the custody of the cachés of arms found in a detachment, only days before Tentorio was killed.

They also asked the SITU to ask the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to produce the guy named “Loloy,” an NBI agent that some witnesses revealed could offer the “missing link” to the mastermind of Tentorio’s killing.

But Geremia said the investigation has been going on slowly that families of key witnesses have become impatient and exasperated.

In a SITU meeting held in Kidapawan City on Monday, October 13, the families of witnesses have threatened to abandon the case and return to their normal lives.

Geremia, however, said the SITU promised to deliver results before the end of the year and some people have remained hopeful probable cause against the suspects would be established soon to warrant the filing of a case in court.

“Families of key witnesses are almost losing hope, we are almost losing hope, this will be their last chance to deliver,” Geremia said in an interview Thursday.

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The group has been pushing the DOJ to include the Department of National Defence (DND) among the interagency groups that made up the superbody and for the military officers to appear during the hearings.

Key witnesses earlier linked Bagani leader Jan Corbala to the killing.

The group also wanted the SITU to include Captain Mark Espiritu, company commander of the 10th Special Forces Company, who retrieved the firearms confiscated by Arakan’s chief of police. Key witnesses have linked the discovered firearms to the plot to kill Tentorio.

Geremia also said they wanted the SITU to look into a witness’ testimony linking Swiss-Filipino businessman Patrick Wineger to the crime, alleging he funded the Baganis in a plot to kill Tentorio. Wineger, however, was executed by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Makilala in March 2012, or about five months after Tentorio’s death.

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TAGS: 10th Special Forces Company, Bagani, Benigno Aquino III, court, determination of probable cause, Fausto Tentorio, foreign missionary, Foreign Nationals, Global Nation crime, Jan Corbala, Justice, Justice for Fr. Pops Movement, Law, litigation, Mark Espiritu, militia groups, Mining, murder, New People's Army, paramilitary groups, Patrick Wineger, Peter Geremia, Philippine president, preliminary investigation, SITU, Special Investigating Team for Unsolved Cases, trial
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