Suspects in Fr. Tentorio slay charged

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/24 February) – Authorities filed this week murder complaints against Jimmy Ato, who was arrested almost two months ago in Arakan town in North Cotabato, and three others, after they were tagged as behind the killing in October 2011 of Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio.

Also charged, reports said, were Roberto Ato, Jimmy’s younger brother who allegedly served as the driver of the motorcycle used as get-away vehicle after the killing; Jose Sultan Sampulna; and Dima Maligudan Sampulna.

The murder complaints were filed at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, this city, by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Special Investigating Task Group Fausto led by Chief Supt. Lester Camba of the Police Regional Office in Region 12.

Lawyer Virgilio Mendez, deputy director for regional operations services of the NBI in Northern Mindanao (Region 10), said that after piecing together the evidences and testimonies, the names of the Ato brothers and the Sampulnas came out as primary suspects in the priest’s killing.

“We already have enough evidences as proof these people were involved in the crime,” said Mendez.

The Ato brothers live in Barangay Kulaman Valley in Arakan, North Cotabato, while the Sampulnas reside somewhere in Maguindanao.

Of those charged, only Jimmy Ato has been placed under the NBI-10 custody in Cagayan de Oro City after his arrest last Dec 29 in his village in Arakan town.

Jimmy’s younger brother, Roberto, is still under the custody of Cotabato 2nd district Rep. Nancy Catamco.

Jun Obello, the congresswoman’s public affairs chief, said Roberto sought Catamco’s help last December to clear his name after he was implicated in Tentorio’s killing.

The Sampulnas, reports said, are now objects of a manhunt.

Tentorio was killed while he was about to board his pickup truck outside the convent in Arakan town on Oct 17, 2011.

He sustained multiple gunshot wounds from a .9mm pistol, reports said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)