Justice continues to elude Father Pops
Last Oct. 17 marked the third anniversary of the killing of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, PIME. This beloved Italian priest, who lived in our country for most of his life as a missionary in far-flung communities of Southern Mindanao, died at the hands of suspected state agents. In broad daylight, a lone gunman ended his life of dedicated service to the indigenous peoples of Mindanao.
We deplore the death of another prophet whose extensive work in the areas of health and education greatly helped many lumad children and their families. Truly, in areas where public service was missing, his acts of love and compassion empowered communities facing threats to their lives and livelihoods due to militarization and “development aggression.”
We condemn yet again, in the strongest terms, the killing of Father Pops and the perpetuation of state-sponsored violence that saw a marked increase in numbers since the Arroyo administration. After three years of waiting, during which public funds have been used to investigate the killing, we continue our clamor for justice. Three years is too long to wait for justice. We will not accept this complacently; we fear, that without public pressure, the case will remain unsolved, similar to the thousands of extrajudicial killings since 2001.
The wheels of justice appear to be at a standstill at the Department of Justice, whose ineptness in both holding perpetrators accountable and protecting witnesses is apparent. With justice delayed, brazen acts of treachery continue in our nation.
We condemn the prevailing climate and culture of impunity under the Aquino administration. This government is very much guilty of dereliction of its duty to respect human rights and implement the rule of law.
In the midst of anger and despair, we continue to find a wellspring of hope and inspiration from people and communities that carry the cross and trek the footpaths of committed, selfless service. We are humbled by our lumad brothers and sisters who, despite harassment and intimidation, sustain Father Pops’ service to communities. Finding courage in their commitment, our moral obligation remains: not to falter from seeking justice, to continue our demand from the state for accountability and redress, and to join in the joyful serving of others, as we build a society where just peace reigns.
Justice for Father Pops! Justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings! End impunity now!
—REV. MARIE SOL VILLALON,
chair, Promotion of Church People’s Response
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