Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Bishop: Slain priest is no communist
By Armand M. Galang

Dec 07, 2017

STO. DOMINGO, Nueva Ecija - Was Fr. Marcelito ‘Tito’ Paez, who reportedly facilitated the release of a suspected New People’s Army (NPA) leader hours before he was killed, a communist or a left-leaning church leader?

“Hindi, hindi, hindi,” said his superior, Bishop Roberto Mallari of the Diocese of San Jose where he (Paez) served for over 30 years until his retirement at the age of 70 in 2015.

Mallari was actually happy that Paez continued in advancing social justice, even after his retirement. Paez was head of the diocese’s social justice committee that guards human rights and promotes the welfare of the poor.

“Talagang meron tayong social action desk sa Simbahan kasi nga isa sa nga gusto nating tulungan ay yung mga kapatid nating mahihirap? So, ano ba yung mga usapin tungkol sa trabaho, sa injustices sa mga laborers” he explained.

Paez, popularly known as Fr. Tito, who was regarded as an activist priest for openly taking stand against supposed human rights violations, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and alleged militarization in Nueva Ecija at certain times, was killed by unidentified riding-in-tandem while negotiating the Jaen-Zaragosa Road at about 7:45 p.m. Monday.

Jaen is located in the southwestern portion of Nueva Ecija and Paez was supposedly on his way home to his priestly residence, Bahay Pari, the home for retired clergy, in this northern municipality.

Senior Supt. Eliseo Tanding, Nueva Ecija police director, said Paez had visited a fellow priest in the area before the attack.

“Not necessarily na tinulungan mo siya na identified sa Left, ikaw na pare ay Left na rin, hindi ganun yun,” Mallari said.

“Ang Simbahan natin, kung napapansin n’yo ay identified sa iba’t ibang klaseng tao lalong lalo yung mga farmers, sa mga squatters makikita nyo may mga religious,” he stressed.

Cecil Ruoz, para legal officer of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and executive committee member of human rights group Karapatan in Central Luzon, said she first met Paez “many years back” when they sought his help as parish priest of Guimba town to facilitate the release from detention of a farmer leader.

Ruiz believes Paez was executed by government security agents because of his advocacy. “

Sa umiiral na sistema ngayon pwedeng mga state forces, pwedeng pulis, puwedeng military, pwedeng mga CAFGU, at sino mang mga armadong grupo na nagsisilbi para ang gobyerno ni Duterte na maabot ang gustong pairalin,” she said.

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