LTE: Fr. Fausto Tentorio, PIME – Staunch defender of the peasants and lumads rights and welfare

Letter to the Editor
25 October 2011

Dear Editor,

We, the Moros, share the grief of our Christian and Lumad brothers and sisters in Arakan, North Cotabato for the brutal killing of Father Fausto Tentorio, PIME, an Italian Catholic missionary who truly served the poor, impoverished and marginalized peasants and indigenous peoples in the area for more than thirty years.

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The people of Arakan were very fortunate to have a non-traditional foreign religious missionary in the person of Fr. Tentorio, who they dearly call Fr. Pops. Fr. Fausto did not only serve and deepen the spiritual lives of the people but lived with them in the real sense of the word. He did not only preach about justice and God’s love for the poor in a vacuum. Fr. Fausto journeyed with the poor and marginalized peasants and lumads in their daily struggle for a better life and future for their children. He supported and joined the peasants and indigenous people’s struggle for land and right to self-determination, against exploitation and oppression, against militarization and human rights violations. Fr. Fausto was a staunch defender of the peasants and lumads’ rights and welfare.

The murder of Fr. Fausto deserves strong condemnation and indignation. It speaks so much about the Aquino administration; about his human rights-coated national security plan, Oplan Bayanihan. The strong and visible presence of the 57th Infantry Battalion in Arakan was not able to prevent the threat on Fr. Fausto’s life and security. It has unmasked the hypocrisy of the Aquino soldiers’ claim as human rights defenders. Fr. Fausto’s assassin killed him in broad daylight in his parish grounds without fear. The killer carried out his mission in a casual manner.

The Arakan tragedy belies President Aquino’s claim that his national security plan is different from President Arroyo’s national security plan, Oplan Bantay Laya. Fr. Fausto is the 54th victim of extrajudicial killings under the one year old Aquino administration. His murder has exposed the heightened impunity character of the Aquino AFP’s human rights-cloaked Oplan Bayanihan.

Oplan Bayanihan is deceptive and highly dangerous. It must be opposed. Oplan Bayanihan must be junked!

Ahmad Hamja
Moro-Christian People’s Alliance

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