01/11/2012, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Politician and police chief in Arakan among possible instigators in Tentorio murder

Sources talk to AsiaNews about the confession of the priest’s alleged assassin published in MindaNews a few days ago. Defeated Arakan mayoralty candidate William Buenaflor had interests in the area and saw the missionary as an obstacle to his election. Three months after the priest’ death, the investigation is not going anywhere because of the lack of evidence to arrest the suspects.
Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – “William Buenaflor, a former mayoralty candidate in Arakan (Mindanao), considered Fr Fausto Tentorio an obstacle in his bid to become the town’s first citizen, and could have been interested in the missionary’s killing,” sources told AsiaNews, anonymous for security reasons. However, three months after the missionary’s murder, the investigation is going nowhere and more evidence is needed to proceed against the suspects.

On 29 December 2010, police arrested Jimmy Ato for the crime. Last Friday, the MindaNews agency published an article in which Ato confessed to playing a minor role in the ambush. Ato pointed the finger instead at brothers Joe and Dima Sampolna, acting on behalf of Buenaflor and Arakan Police Chief Benjamin Rioflorido.

In his signed statement, Ato explained his role in the murder. He said he refused to be the killer to avoid endangering his family but acted as a lookout. He also cleared his brother Robert, who was not present at the scene of the crime.

“All this must be checked,” the sources said. “However, Buenaflor is a major figure in the Arakan Valley. He owns several sugar cane and palm oil plantations, and has criticised Fr Fausto’s presence in the area in the past.”

On the possibility that the police chief might be involved, the sources said Rioflorido was moved to another area at the start of the year. He justified his transfer by the fact that his name was linked to that of the defeated mayoralty candidate, and that his presence could compromise the investigation.

Fr Fausto Tentorio was killed by a lone gunman at his home in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish on 17 October 2011, in Arakan, North Cotabato, Mindanao.

He is the third PIME priest to be killed in the Philippines. The other two are Fr Tullio Favali and Fr Salvatore Carzedda, killed respectively in 1985 and 1992. (S.C.)
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