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Joint Statement on the Killing of Fr Tito Paez in Nueva Ecija

Released statement from Mr Manny del Rosario  of  Migrante Australia, New South Wales:

We mourn the passing of Fr Marcelito “Tito” Paez, a servant of God who selflessly served the Filipino people. On December 4, Father Tito was gunned down by unidentified men while driving his vehicle in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. He was rushed to a hospital in the nearby town of San Leonardo where he succumbed to bullet wounds.  


Fr Tito was a courageous human rights advocate and even on his last day he worked for the freedom of a political prisoner, Rommel Tacay.  Tacay is the president of the alliance of peasant farmers in Central Luzon.  He was arrested in March 2017 by soldiers of the 56th Infantry Battalion, and until yesterday was detained in the provincial jail in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.


Fr Tito was a native of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, and as a priest served in parishes across the province until his retirement in 2015.  His pastoral duties were carried out alongside his abiding commitment to social justice and human rights.  He was active in organisations opposed to the Marcos dictatorship, and continued that activism in the 3 decades since.  He has been the subject of harassment and threats by elements of the military and the previous administrations in the Philippines.


At the time of his death, Fr Tito was the coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) in Central Luzon.  He is the first Catholic priest killed under President Duterte.


Fr Tito’s death follows that of Pastor Lovelito Quinones of the Kings Glory Ministry in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro who was shot by the Regional Mobile Group (RMG) on December 3 allegedly in an encounter, with the military insisting that the pastor was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). Meanwhile, 8 Indigenous leaders were killed by soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion in the province of South Cotabato, Mindanao, also on the 3rd of December.


This pattern of killings is consistent with the policies of the Duterte regime.  President Duterte has often stated he supports killings, and not only of drug pushers.  He has condemned human rights activists and has promised a new campaign of terror when turning away from efforts for peace and talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).


We celebrate the life, courage and compassion of Fr Tito and all victims of state terror in the Philippines.  We hold President Duterte accountable for the human rights violations in the Philippines.


Justice for all victims of human rights violations!


Let justice be meted out to all perpetrators of killings and human rights violations in the Philippines!


Return to peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)!


Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP)

Anakbayan Australia

GABRIELA Australia

International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)

International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS) Australia

Migrante Australia

Philippine Australia Solidarity Association (PASA)

Philippines Australia Union Link (PAUL)