A Statement on the Arrest of Jimmy Ato

Jan. 01, 2012

A Statement of the Arrest of Jimmy Ato


The Justice for Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio Movement welcomes the recent arrest of Jimmy Ato as a result of the pressure from the broadest movement of local and international advocates crying for swift and genuine justice for the brutal murder of Italian missionary in Arakan.


We have learned that the arrest was made possible through different independent initiatives of people’s organizations in facilitating witnesses and information leading to the arrest of Ato.


Hence, the arrest may serve as one piece of the puzzle and serve to spark hope that the perpetrators may be brought to the bars of justice. We hope that more witnesses would come to us and allow us to help them overcome the climate of fear in order to gain courage to testify.


We, however, shall remain vigilant and critical. The suspect’s statements and testimonies must be carefully evaluated and verified. Any development following the arrest may be an attempt by the authorities to fan off the growing movement condemning the state and the military’s accountability.


Moreover, we warn the National Bureau of Investigation of a possible whitewash of the case – use the suspect to shield the real perpetrators.


We are aware that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was quick to make defensive comments and even already projected their innocence this early. Let us all be reminded that the arrest has not absolved any entity, least state security forces.


This is in spite of the fact Known to the public already that Fr. Pops had been receiving threats before he was murdered from paramilitary groups backed by the AFP and the fact that Fr. Pops was vocal against against militarization in Arakan for over decades.


The continuing military harassment and threats against civilians in Arakan, particularly victimizing those who are directly associated with Fr. Pops are proof enough of the AFP’s effort to silence the community. The killing of Ramon Batoy and the arrest of civilians after the killing of Fr. Pops are all executed by the AFP as a way to sow fear among those who will speak ill against the AFP.


All of these threats and incidents are closely tied to Fr. Pops’ death, far from what the AFP claims.


We have long cried and now reiterate that if the authorities are really determined to bring justice to Fr. Pop’s death they must take steps to restrain, by pulling out, all military units in Arakan, and in order to end the reign of impunity in Arakan and subsequently provide an atmosphere of safety and trust.
for reference:

Sr. Julita Encarnacion
Convener, Justice for Fr. Pops Movement

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