By Kerima Bulan Navales
Communist rebels today claimed responsibility for the killing of a Swiss-Filipino businessman they say was involved in the murder of an Italian priest in Mindanao last year.
The New People’s Army (NPA) said they “punished” Patrick Wineger, 48, for his alleged close links with “fanatical and anti-NPA groups” and targeting Italian missionary Father Fausto Tentorio.
Wineger was shot dead early on Wednesday morning by two men on a motorcycle at a fleamarket in Kidapawan City.
NPA spokesman, Rigoberto Sanchez, said several text messages found on Wineger’s mobile phone revealed he was in close contact with paramilitaries linked to Fr Tentorio’s murder.
“The swift and timely punishment of one of the principals behind Father Tentorio’s killing stands as a fitting and just retribution amid the false justice dispensed by the US-Aquino regime,” Sanchez said in a statement.
“With strong evidence suggesting Wineger committed grave offenses against the revolutionary movement, the NPA military tribunal handed down a death sentence against him,” he said.
Father Tentorio was killed on October 17 last year inside the compound of a convent in Arakan town in North Cotabato.
Two suspects have been arrested but church people and rights groups still believe the military had a hand in the murder.