The German Action Network Human Rights –Philippines (Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte –Philippinen, AMP) is extremely moved and concerned by the latest killing of Italian missionary Father Fausto Tentorio and strongly condemns this brutal crime.
Father Fausto’s assassination on October 17 at broad daylight is another indication of the still prevailing climate of impunity in the Philippines where certain groups continue to be impervious to the rule of law.
According to our information, prior to his murder, Father Fausto had received numerous death threats due to his work with the indigenous communities and as anti-mining advocate and he was under surveillance weeks before his killing. In 2003 he survived an attempt on his life by a paramilitary group called “Bagani”.
The AMP welcomes the step of the Department of Justice to set up a local task force to investigate the killing and to explore all possible angles to determine the responsible persons behind the killing. However, we are very much concerned about the specific conditions and the atmosphere of impunity in the Philippines. Under these conditions human rights defenders in the Philippines have to fear for their safety and even for their lives when exercising their constitutional rights. Very unfortunately, advocating for basic human rights and a decent living for the most marginalized groups in the Philippines is life-threatening. Since President Aquino took office 60 cases of extrajudicial killings have been documented but none has been resolved so far.
In this context our partner organizations in the Philippines are reporting the formation and deployment of militias to beef up security for mining corporations. This is a very serious concern and aggravating the situation.
We strongly believe that, unless impunity is broken and justice for victims of human rights violations is ensured, the killings will remain.
Therefore the AMP is calling on the Philippine government and the prosecution services
- to carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation on the murder of Fr. Tentorio and a possible involvement of state agents or paramilitary groups;
- to create a Presidential Accountability Commission to ensure diligent investigation and fair prosecution in other cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture;
- to provide security for Human Rights Defenders under threat;
- to revoke order EO 546, directing the recruitment of paramilitary groups for counterinsurgency.