10/28/2011, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Fr Tentorio’s love for the last exploited by the military and Maoists

The Filipino army says that the priest, slain on 17 October, was suspected of ties with the rebels of the New People’s Army. In an article, Maoists praise the clergyman as a true “Communist”. “He was first and foremost a priest,” a source tells AsiaNews, his life dedicated to “the last, unconcerned about dangers and political spin.”
Kidapawan (AsiaNews) – The Filipino military and the Maoists rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) are exploiting the death of Fr Fausto Tentorio, the missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (PIME) assassinated on 17 October in Arakan, North Cotabato.

The military today said that the priest, who spent 30 years serving tribal communities in the Arakan Valley, was suspected of contacts with Maoist rebels, who are active in the area. For its part, the NPA paid for a long article that appeared in the Filipino newspaper Inquirer in which they describe him as a true “Communist” for his work on behalf of the poor.

Everyone has misunderstood Fr Fausto’s work and his being a man of God, an anonymous source told AsiaNews. “He was first and foremost a priest,” the source said. “His life and vocation were to be with the last, unconcerned about dangers and political spin. The fact that the rebels held in high esteem means nothing, but this influence the army’s view. Fr Fausto had no choice. He could not leave the Tribals to avoid the praise of the Maoists and protect himself from the suspicions of the military.”

“With such rumours, the people of the Arakan Valley are afraid of the military’s reaction and are unwilling to speak,” the source told AsiaNews. “Only the rebels can clarify the situation, saying that Fr Fausto was not in contact with them.”

Meanwhile, the investigation into the missionary’s death continues. Yesterday, Francisco Baraan, who heads a Department of Justice taskforce in charge of extrajudicial murders, announced that next week his team would resume the probe in Kidapawan, which had stopped to allow for Fr Fausto’s funeral last Tuesday. (S.C.)
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