ASIA/PHILIPPINES - 13 priests killed in Mindanao; the Church to the government: "The culture of impunity urgently needs to be tackled"

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Cotabato (Agenzia Fides) – Out of 13 priests killed on the island of Mindanao since 1970, only one case has been resolved (that of the PIME missionary Father Tullio Favali), with the investigation of the responsibles of the murder. Another 12 remain unpunished, as Fides sources report in the Church in Mindanao, the largest island in the southern Philippines where on October 17, 2011 PIME missionary Father Fausto Tentorio was killed.
His Exc. Mgr. Jose Cabantan, Bishop of Malaybalay and President of the Episcopal Commission for Indigenous People in Mindanao, says to Fides: "There is a culture of impunity that must be urgently tackled with all means. For all these priests killed, but also for many lay leaders of civil society, we do not know who the perpetrators and instigators are and what reasons there are behind the killings. We can only imagine". According to the Bishop, "the problem, even in the case of Fr. Tentorio, is that the witnesses are fearful and reluctant". "With regards to Fr. Tentorio we know that he had received threats from paramilitary groups in the past. These groups are linked to mining companies that expropriate the lands from the natives, who the missionary defended. This is a point of conflict on which one must investigate", he remarks.
Mgr. Cabantan launches an appeal: "As a Church we ask the government to implement a serious program of protection concerning witnesses, so that the truth emerges and so that this evil culture of impunity that reigns in Mindanao, is eradicated. This should be the government’s priority, to preserve true democracy and the rule of law". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 29/10/2011)