Iloilo City – The Kabataan Partylist Panay condemned today in the strongest possible terms last Monday’s vicious murder of the Italian missionary Father Fausto Tentorio in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato and vowed to lead an anti-mining campaign in Panay in honor of his memory.
“The Filipino youth extends our condolences to Father Tentorio’s family. We also express our sympathy to the people of Arakan who lost a most selfless servant and defender in the person of Father Tenorio,” said Kabataan Partylist Panay Regional Coordinator Karlo Mikhail Mongaya.
Father Tentorio was a member of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions and headed the Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Arakan, Cotabato.
Father Tentorio actively opposed the entry of foreign mining corporations seeking to plunder nickel, cobalt and chromium in Kulaman Valley.
He was also a firm ally of the indigenous Manobo people in their struggle to reclaim their ancestral land from foreign companies, private armies, and government military forces.
Father Tentorio was constantly threatened and almost killed in 2003 by gunmen under the Baganis Command, a vigilante group organized by the Philippine Army to liquidate suspected communist rebels and sympathizers.
Mongaya said the youth partylist will honor Father Tentorio’s memory by taking on his advocacy against foreign mining companies bent on plundering the country’s natural resources and for the defense of the ancestral land and culture of indigenous peoples.
“Come the opening of classes this second semester, the youth here in Panay will not only hold bigger protests for a higher education budget but also lead the campaign against the entry of big commercial mining in the island,” said Mongaya.
Mongaya said that, like Father Tentorio, the youth will stand with the peasant, indigenous peoples, and church sectors against the plunder of the country’s rich natural resources by foreign companies to the detriment of the Filipino people.
“This takes on added urgency as ancestral lands of the Tumandok indigenous people in the mountainous borders of Iloilo and Capiz will be affected by mining operations,” he said.
“Like Father Tentorio, Panay-based anti-mining advocates like Ma. Geobelyn Lopez of the Madia-as Ecological Movement has also been the targets of death threats. We condemn the attempts at suppressing legitimate opposition to national government policies.”
“We are against the Aquino administration’s campaign to entice foreign companies to operate large-scale mining and other forms of massive environmental degradation that have only left us poorer and with fewer natural resources to provide for the needs of our nation.”
REFERENCE: KARLO MIKHAIL MONGAYA
Panay Regional Coordinator, Kabataan Partylist