AFP joins PNP in Italian priest’s slay probe

October 18, 2011 9:49 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 18 – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Tuesday it has joined forces with the Philippine National Police (PNP) in investigating the murder of Italian Catholic priest Fausto Tentorio in North Cotabato.

AFP public affairs office (PAO) head Col. Arnulfo Burgos said they would render full cooperation with the PNP in the investigation of Tentorio’s murder.

Burgos said the PNP’s Police Regional Office in Sarangani is the main law enforcement agency in charge of the investigation but the military will help by aiding in investigations and identifying suspects.

No suspects has been identified, according to Burgos. He said that the military has determined some leads in the case but refused to divulge further information, saying that investigations were ongoing.

The military has deployed its Special Forces and the 57th Infantry Battalion in Arakan to assist the joint task force organized by Arakan mayor Gerardo Tuble Sr. to investigate the killing.

Tentorio was gunned down by an unidentified gunman outside the church compound in Arakan town Monday morning.

The 59-year-old Roman Catholic priest is a native of Santa Maria Hoe town in Italy’s Lecco province.

Meanwhile, PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz said they formed Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) “Fausto,” led by Police Chief Supt. Lester Camba, Deputy Regional Director for Administration Police Regional Office 12.

“It is only now that these threats have surfaced, based on the investigation of the Special Investigation Task Group,” Cruz said in a press briefing.

“We are studying if these can be validated through letters or text messages, or even witnesses who can say that he really was under threat,” he said.

Tentorio arrived in the Philippines in 1978, a year after being ordained in his home country of Italy.

Tentorio was the third member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions to have been killed since 1985 in Mindanao, a vast island home to Muslim separatists, political warlords and other armed groups.

Tentorio's colleagues suspected that the priest's death was linked to his efforts to help local tribes and other disadvantaged people in the area. (PNA) RMA/JCA


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