Philippines: Indigenous groups condemn slaying of prominent activist
An organization that advocates for indigenous people in the Philippines is decrying the death of a Catholic priest and staunch Lumad activist.
Father Fausto Tentorio was gunned down by a lone motorcycle-riding gunman in October. According to reports, the priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions was preparing to leave for a drive to Kidapawan City when he was shot in the head.
Piya Macliing Malayao, a spokeswoman for Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas—the National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations in the Philippines, also known as KAMP—condemned the slaying of Father Pops, as the priest was affectionately known.
"His death is a tremendous loss to us indigenous peoples,” she said during a rally. “Yet, even in death, Father Pops's life is ever-contributing to the struggle for our rights. His killing revealed the tremendous persecution, repression, and violence that indigenous peoples suffer in the Philippines."
Nine indigenous activists had already been killed in the Philippines this year, according to rights groups, including an indigenous leader who was gunned down in September.
Tentorio, an Italian priest and missionary, had worked closely with the indigenous peoples of Mindanao since 1978. In his various assignments in different parts of Mindanao, Tentorio made profound contributions to indigenous Lumad communities and was a prominent figure in the struggles for peoples’ rights.
KAMP says Tentorio’s advocacy had gained the ire of corporations and military elements and he had barely escaped attempts on his life in the past.
Critics have accused state-aligned forces of being behind the killing, though the military has denied involvement in the death.
But KAMP says that President Benigno Aquino’s stated plans to boost the country’s security presence in the south has resulted in the persecution and deaths of outspoken indigenous activists.
PHOTO: Fr. Fausto Tentorio was gunned down in October. (Credit: PIME)