DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 October) — He was about to enter his vehicle in the garage of his convent in Arakan, North Cotabato, to drive to the Bishops’s Residence in Balindog, Kidapawan City, 52 kilometers away for the monthly Presbyterium of the Diocese of Kidapawan on Monday, October 17. He never made it to Balindog. A gunman fired ten bullets to make sure he was dead.
Fr. Fausto Tentorio will arrive in Balindog eight days later, on October 25, in a simple casket made from a mahogany tree he planted in the 1980s, for interment at the Diocesan cemetery within the Bishop’s compound. Tentorio’s grave will be near where Fr. Tullio Favali, another Italian priest, also of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) and who also met a violent death on April 11, 1985, was buried.
Kidapawan Bishop Romulo dela Cruz told MindaNews Tentorio’s remains will be brought down from Arakan to the Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces Cathedral in Kidapawan City on Monday morning, October 24, for an overnight vigil.
The funeral mass will be at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, October 25. From the Cathedral, Fr. Tentorio’s remains will be accompanied by a procession to the cemetery in the Bishop’s compound, some three kilometers away.
The last funeral march from the cathedral to Balindog was 26 years ago, for Favali. Defying the Marcos dictatorship, thousands of mourners and protesters braved the noonday heat to join the march.
Thousands are also expected to join the funeral march for Tentorio on Tuesday.
PNoy vows justice
Tentorio was the first priest, and the first foreign missionary killed under the 16-month Aquino administration.
Religious groups, human rights advocates and militant groups immediately issued statements on the killing of Tentorio but President Aquino or his Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) issued no statement on Monday.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda as saying, “We condemn the killing of Father Tentorio” and that the Philippine National Police was looking into the murder.
It was only on Tuesday, when asked by reporters after delivering his speech at the 110th anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard in Manila, that President Aquino vowed justice for the priest. “Regardless of who did the crime, they will have to pay. That has been the direction of this administration from the start. You do the crime, you will be in jail,” he said.
The PCOO posted six articles on its website on October 17 but was silent on Tentorio’s killing, a major story. One of the articles posted by PCOO Monday was “Malacañang defends promotion of Sarangani Congressman Pacquiao to lieutenant colonel in AFP.”
The other articles were: “Aquino cites National Sectoral Assembly’s role in fight against poverty; ‘Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program’ is capital for country’s future, says Aquino;” Aquino declares October 21 as special non-working day in Negros Oriental; Malacañang vows government’s effort to curb human trafficking; and Aquino administration remains open to dialogues with Judicial-Executive Council.”
No statement on the Tentorio killing was also posted in the PCOO website on October 18. None also on website of the Office of the President or its Official Gazette. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)