We condemn, in the strongest terms, the killing of activist priest Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez of the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija. Fr. Tito was gunned down by riding tandem gunmen on Dec. 4. Earlier that day, he assisted the release of political detainee Rommel Tucay in Cabanatuan City.
Fr. Tito was the Central Luzon coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and active member of the Promotion of Church People’s Response.
Consistent with his patriotic and nationalistic stance, he was one of the organizers and leaders of the Central Luzon Alliance for a Sovereign Philippines in the 1980s. Together with other church people and the wide mass movement, they successfully campaigned for the removal of the US military bases. He was also very much against the building and operation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
Another church leader was killed in Mindoro a day before this incident. Pastor Lovelito Quiñones of the King’s Glory Ministry was shot by military elements in Sitio Anapla, Barangay Don Pedro, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro.
Family and congregation have countered the military’s claim that Pastor Quiñones was a member of the New People’s Army. They also attested that the military planted a pistol beside his body but paraffin test has revealed a negative result.
We urge the Duterte administration to conduct a thorough investigation on the two killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.
We urge President Duterte to stop maligning activists who exercise their democratic rights by serving the people. We call for an end to the persecution of church people, and human rights and justice advocates who express their dissenting opinion on political and social issues.
NARDY SABINO, general secretary, Promotion of Church People’s Response