We, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) strongly condemn the brutal killing of Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez, 72, RMP National Board Member and Regional Coordinator of RMP Central Luzon last night, December 4, 2017 in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.
Fr. Tito was driving his vehicle along a road in Jaen town, at 8 PM when he was attacked and shot at by motorcycle-riding assailants suspected to be state security forces. He was brought immediately to the hospital but died hours later.
Fr. Tito, who belonged to the Diocese of San Jose City, was known for his progressive advocacies and missionary work among the rural poor. Earlier that day, Fr. Tito assisted in facilitating the release of political detainee Rommel Tucay from the Provincial Jail in Cabanatuan City. Tucay, an organizer of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson-Nueva Ecija (AMGL-NE) who was arrested last March 2017 in Carranglan.
This is a brutal act against Church people and part of an effort to sow fear and terror among those who oppose the militarist and tyrannical character of the Duterte government and to silence those who continue to denounce the extra-judicial killings and human rights abuses of this regime.
We call for a thorough investigation of this incident and demand that perpetrators be held accountable.
Ultimately, we hold President Duterte responsible for the intensifying attacks against rural missionaries, activists and human rights advocates.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Fr. Tito’s family and community. His commitment to serve the rural poor is an inspiration to Church people. He served the people to his last breath. He sought to align the social teachings of the Church with the legitimate demands of the people. He fought for the people’s rights and interests.
We call on the Church people to denounce this latest atrocity. We are facing perilous times where no one is safe. Let us all unite in raising our voices against this regime’s utter disregard for people’s lives.
Justice for Fr. Tito Paez!
Stop the attacks on rural missionaries!
Stop the Killings!
Sr. Elenita Belardo, RGS
05 December 2017