By Joey Natividad
NAGA CITY (BicolToday.com) – German advocacy group Action Network Human Rights- Philippines (AMP) on Monday (July 23) urges Philippine authorities to move fast and dig more evidences in the investigation of the killing of Italian activist priest Fausto Tenorio.
The German human rights group lamented about the slow progress in the arrests of the suspects who were already identified, taking note that authorities refused to budge farther than having the suspects known and identified.
“These are all attempts to hamper an impartial, fair and independent investigation”, criticizes Maike Grabowski, a statement sent by email. Grabowski is coordinator of the German-based Action Network Human Rights-Philippines (AMP). The German group statement was timed during the President Aquino’s state of the nation address.
AMP reflects the concern of the 8-member organizations that comprise the advocacy group. Its member organizations are Amnesty International Germany, Diakonie / Bread for the World, Church Development Service (EED), Misereor, Missio, Philippinenbüro, and United Evangelical Mission (UEM). The main focuses of the network are extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
The group promotes lobby- and information work in Germany regarding the human rights situation in the Philippines. Through its office, the network coordinates publications, events and lobby activities. Target groups are political decision makers, human rights defenders and social activists as well as the media in Germany and Europe.
On October 17, 2011 Italian activist priest Fausto Tentorio was shot dead by a gunman inside his parish compound in the town of Arakan, North Cotabato, in Mindanao. A local paramilitary group Bagani (“tribal warriors”), reportedly under military control of the 57th Infantry Battalion, was allegedly responsible for the killing of Father Fausto.
However, despite various sworn testimonies by different witnesses about the involvement of Bagani leader Jan Corbala alias “Kumander Iring”, and other suspects as plotters of the killing, they have not been included in the government’s investigation.
“We see with deep concern, that paramilitary groups like the Bagani Group seem to be protected by influential people and therefore above the law“, says Jochen Motte, chairman of the German lobby group.
AMP lamented that concerned agencies, like the Department of Justice, the responsible government prosecutors and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have to show more sincerity and determination towards the conviction of the perpetrators of gross human rights violations and the masterminds in the back, regardless of their political protection or affiliation.
“This will be the only chance to break through the climate of impunity and help the citizens of the Philippines to regain trust in the rule of law,” said Motte. “9 months after the killing there is growing criticism that these suspects have been deliberately left out of the case because of their military ties.”
The German group said that none of the four suspects the NBI has recommended to file charges against have been arrested. There are also numerous grave threats against the witnesses, their families and those who try to pursue the case.
The AMP is calling on the Philippine government to:
– Order all government agencies to expand and complete the investigation, taking into account the alleged involvement of the Bagani group and the 57th Infantry Battalion officers with command responsibility, during the time of the killing.
– Disarm the Bagani or Alamara armed groups and all other paramilitary groups in the country
– Provide adequate security for witnesses and their families
– Investigate all threats against witnesses, their families and supporters of the “Fr. Fausto “Pops” Movement”
– Direct the NBI to investigate those who pressured one witness to give a false statement.
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