BUKIDNON, Philippines – Police arrested a suspect in the grisly murder of Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (PIME) priest Father Fausto “Pops” Tentorio in Arakan Valley, Cotabato province, officials confirmed on Wednesday, December 1.
Father Tentorio was gunned down in the compound of the Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in the town center of Arakan on October 17, 2011, allegedly by two men riding in tandem on a motorcycle. The priest died from at least 10 gunshots to the head, chest, and torso.
Arakan police chief Allan Espadera told Rappler that Ricardo “Nene” Durado did not resist his arrest when police came for him during the wake of his older brother in Barangay Dallag, Arakan, on November 28.
“We received reports from the community that Durado was attending the wake of his brother whose burial was set the following day. We immediately went to Dallag to verify the information,” Espadera said.
Espadera is optimistic that the remaining four suspects with warrants for their arrest would soon surrender following information relayed to the police chief last October.
“We had a dialogue with Fr. Peter Geremia in October this year before the 10th death anniversary of Father Pops that four suspects would surrender if Dorado gets arrested. I look forward to that,” said Espadera.
Dorado was a former barangay chairman in Dallag in 1986 and has been known for his membership with the infamous Ilaga group in Cotabato that was implicated in the grisly killings in the Cotabato areas during Martial Law.
In 2020, the Arakan police tried to apprehend two of the five suspects who were sighted in the Davao City areas but failed.
Lawyer Gregorio Andolana, who is handling the Tentorio case, said he was happy with the arrest of Durado, and that he was looking forward to the capture or surrender of brothers Jimmy and Ricardo Ato.
Before the arrest of Durado, Andolana told Rappler that some of the suspects were being coddled by powerful people in North Cotabato, making it difficult for the law enforcers to make the arrest.
PIME priest Fr. Geremia said the arrest was a big step in their quest for justice.
Geremia and his group believe that Tentorio was murdered because of their missionary work in tribal communities and their advocacy for the protection of the ecosystem in an area in Mindanao where environmental destruction has long been evident. – Rappler.com
Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship