The murder of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio brings back memories of Fr. Tulio Favali, also of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), who was murdered on April 11, 1985, by paramilitary elements who were after Fr. Peter Geremia. Father Favali happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Tirso Velasco, Greg Andolana, Sol Jubillan, Merlin Bello, Orlando Dano and I prosecuted the Manero brothers, et al. in Kidapawan. They, save one, would appear in court, bald, with only a heart-shaped tuft left.
Every trial date, I would take the PAL 2-a.m. Bulilit flight to Davao, and from there board a bus for Kidapawan. Bishop Orlando Quevedo was our gutsy host. Father Geremia would drive me around. Nuns would escort me to Davao for the return flight.
I played a cameo role and had to quit after snap polls presidential candidate Cory Aquino asked me to be her spokesperson in late 1985. I was not around for the conviction of the paramilitary murderers who looked askance at those serving the people, seeing them as “subversives” to be dispatched to the Promised Land.
Brave Tirso also fought to get justice for Evelio Javier, who was gunned down on Feb. 11, 1986. Andolana became a congressman and yelped when he saw one convicted Manero a free man in the ’90s. Jubillan was a victim of reckless driving.
In praying tribute to Father Tentorio, we are not to forget Tirso Velasco of the Department of Justice, and the local private human rights lawyers led by Andolana, and just maybe, MABINI, which I then represented, when human rights lawyering was dangerous and probably remains so today, and needs the open and vocal support from courageous souls like Bishop Quevedo.
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