1987-09-09 00:00:00

Eight men have been sentenced to life in prison for the April 11, 1985 murder of Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) Father Tullio Favali.

The former paramilitary Civilian Home Defence Forces members are to serve the sentences at the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa, 30 km south of Manila.

The eight include the three Manero brothers: Norberto, alias "Commander Bucay," Edilberto and Elpidio.

Edilberto, according to eyewitnesses, fired the shot that blew off the top of the Italian missioner´s head, then jumped in wild celebration on the body.

Father Favali was shot because some military officers believed the Church was overly sympathetic to the communist-led New Peoples´ Army (NPA), according to former Kidapawan diocese social action director Father Primo Hagad.

Father Sebastian D´Ambra, PIME Philippine superior, said he was surprised justice was done, and congratulated the judge for his courage.

During the period the Manero brothers were supposedly in custody, they were reportedly seen as far away as Zamboanga City, 135 km to the southwest.

PIME spokesperson Guilio Mariani said Sept. 7 he never thought the defendants would be convicted, since the case took so long and because of many pressures brought against the Church and court.

-- According to Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Kidapawan, pressures on the Church in the area continue, and many crimes have been committed against Church workers believed to be overly sympathetic to communist rebels.

A kidnapping-with-rape case filed against three Kidapawan priests is "an obvious attempt to discredit the Church." Bishop Pueblos said. The accused include PIME Father Peter Geremia, who had been Father Favali´s assistant.

The bishop said the girl had wanted to marry a relative of the Maneros, but the priests refused to permit it, partly because she was only 15 at the time.

Many priests and people in Kidapawan fasted Sept. 1-4 to protest anti-Church activities which they blame on elements in the military and Marcos loyalists.

President Corazon Aquino, while campaigning against then President Ferdinand Marcos in North Cotabato in January 1986, promised she would see justice done in the Father Favali case.


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