Ten years after the killing of the PIME missionary in the Arakan Valley, Philippine police detain Nene Dorado, a former village chief. An arrest warrant in his name was issued more than two years ago, but never carried out because the suspect was protected by local political and business interests. Now the case should finally go to trial even if six other suspects remain at large.
Davao (AsiaNews) – Philippine police have arrested the main suspect in the murder of Fr. Fausto Tentorio.
The Italian-born member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign relations (PIME) was killed on 17 October 2011, at his mission in the Arakan Valley, Mindanao Island.
Ricardo Boryo Dorado, also known as Nene Dorado, a 66-year-old former village (Barangay) chief Dallag, is one of the seven people wanted by the authorities in connection with the crime.
A warrant had been issued for their arrest on 30 April 2019 by Judge Arvin Sadiri Balagot, of the Regional Trial Court in Kidapawan.
Some witnesses had already come forward in the weeks following the murder, designating Dorado and his Bagani militia as the instigators and perpetrators of the assassination.
Dorado belongs to the Ilaga, a group of Christians who immigrated to Mindanao decades, involved in fighting with ethnic Manobo over land rights.
Fr Tentorio’s 30-year struggle defending the rights of indigenous communities was in fact what led to his death.
Formal charges were laid only in 2019 because of attempts to mislead the investigations. Even then, none of the seven suspects were arrested, until now that is.
Just a few weeks ago, Gregorio Andolana, a lawyer following the legal battle in Kidapawan for the truth over Fr Tentorio’s death, spoke to Rappler, an online news website founded by the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa.
“The suspects are freely seen around Arakan and in Davao areas. They are under protection and custody of powerful and influential business and political individuals,” Andolana told Rappler.
Now, just as the race for the 2022 election officially begins in the Philippines, Nene Dorado is arrested.
The police took him into custody during the wake of his older brother, suggesting that he was not hiding despite the arrest warrant issued more than two years ago.
At his court appearance, he was remanded into custody at a local detention facility. The other six suspects are still at large.
Dorado's arrest means that Fr. Tentorio’s murder might finally go to trail.
At least that is what Fr Peter Geremia, a confrere and friend of the missionary slain 10 years ago, hopes to see. To this end, he urges the faithful “to pray for truth, justice and peace”.