Father Fausto Tentorio, a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was shot dead outside his parish church in the town of Arakan, North Cotabato province, on Oct. 17, 2011.
Ten years after his death, the Italian missionary priest continues to inspire people in the southern Philippines, especially those who worked with him in the mission areas.
Father Peter Geremia, a colleague of Father Tentorio, said his brother priest was killed because of his work with the indigenous people in the area.
“That is why his friends and I are still carrying out the programs we started with him and continue to fight for justice,” Father Geremia was quoted as saying in a report on AsiaNews this week.
He said missionaries who work with the indigenous people in the area continue to deal with “many obstacles and even threats.”
“We are tempted to stop, but I believe that our efforts and our prayers, our songs and our testimonies, our cry for justice are still keeping (the cause of) Father Fausto,” said the priest.
Father Geremia said the late missionary “has become a sign of hope, a sign of liberation from oppression and despair.”
“He followed the example of Christ who continues to be with us as we carry out his mission,” said Father Geremia.
Father Tentorio’s flock – Christian and tribal people – remember the priest as an “ardent defender of human rights, social justice, and peace.”
During his stay in Mindanao, the priest facilitated the operation of 80 daycare centers in tribal communities and was instrumental in the establishment of 10 Ata-Manobo tribal schools in Davao del Norte province.
He also supported the education of at least 3,000 tribal and peasant children.
To day, justice remains elusive for the murdered priest.
Witnesses and human rights groups said the Bagani paramilitary group, which is allegedly trained and funded by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has been behind the killing.
Military officials denied any involvement in the incident.