(Statement of Peace Advocates Zamboanga on the killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, PIME in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato, on Monday, October 17, 2011.)
WE condemn in the strongest terms the murder and killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, a religious of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), who was treacherously shot dead in the premises of his Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato last Monday, October 17, 2011. We grieve over the tragic loss to God and mankind of another faithful worker in the mission to build the Kingdom of God.
Fr. Tentorio served and helped the people of Central Mindanao, especially the much-marginalized indigenous peoples of the region, for some 30 years. His death is an irreparable loss to the people of his community. But with him all people who believe in what he struggled and worked for – justice, love, freedom, truth, and peace – partly die, too.
His killing is an indictment not just of those who executed him, but of the society that produced the killer/s and the motive behind the evil and barbaric act. Fr. Tentorio pursued his pastoral duties with an uncommon zeal and courage because he daily witnessed the unjust and unjustifiable sufferings of the people around him. Their sufferings have been the results of the greed, betrayals, violence and corruption committed by others, perhaps by a nameless many day in and day out. This is the real culture of impunity that is said to be rife hereabouts.
The President has reflexively ordered the investigation and arrest of the perpetrator/s. But even in the rare event that the killer/s is caught, that would not be enough. Government has a constitutional, political and moral duty to wipe out the culture of impunity afflicting our society and people. It is a spreading cancer that results in rising insurgency, terrorism, criminality, and poverty.
We hope and pray that the killing of Fr.Tentorio will arouse local people and communities from apathy, indifference and cynicism – and so to inspire and energize us all to carry on his work and mission wherever we may be. By so doing, we shall affirm to God and ourselves that there is hope in our dreams for peace and better life, and that Fr. Tentorio did not live and die in vain.