Press Statement | 04 December 2017
LONDON – Migrante-Europe condemns in the strongest possible terms the murder of Father Marcelito “Tito” Paez, Central Luzon coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP-CL), earlier today, 04 December 2017. Father Tito was driving along a road in Jaen town, Nueva Ecija, at around 8:00 pm Manila time, when he was attacked by armed assailants on a motorcycle. He was rushed to a hospital in San Leonardo town but died while being treated.
Earlier today, Father Tito facilitated the release of political prisoner Rommel Tucay from the Nueva Ecija Provincial Jail in Cabanatuan City. Tucay, an organizer of the Peasant Alliance of Central Luzon (AMGL) was arrested from his house in March this year by elements of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
Father Tito belongs to the Diocese of San Jose City and was the former parish priest of Nampicuan and Guimba towns, in Nueva Ecija province. He is well known for his progressive advocacies. In the 1980s he was one of the leaders of the Central Luzon Alliance for a Sovereign Philippines (CLASP), which campaigned for the removal of the US military bases in Central Luzon and other parts of the country. He also took active part in the campaign against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
For leading church activities for the poor and other victims of human rights violations, Father Tito had been threatened and harassed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and paramilitary groups under past governments, especially that of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Father Tito is the first Roman Catholic priest to be assassinated under the Rodrigo
Duterte government. In addition, human rights group KARAPATAN reported as of October 2017 that there are 104 cases of political killings, four massacres, 20 incidents of forced evacuation among the Lumads, and 17 aerial bombings under the Duterte administration.
We call on the Duterte government to uphold the rule of law and go after these dastardly armed elements targeting the civilian population. We demand that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes be identified, arrested, prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.
We express our deepest sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of Father Tito. The legacy of his service to the poor and downtrodden will live on in the hearts of the people.
We call on migrant Filipinos and friends of the Filipino people in Europe to heighten our vigilance against the ever-increasing brutality of the Duterte government. Let us join the Filipino people in the home country and in many parts of the world on 10 December 2017, the International Human Rights Day to condemn the increasing fascist character of the Duterte government. Let us gather in front of the Philippine Embassies and Consular Offices in the countries in Europe to continue raising our voices against these atrocities. With our linked arms, let us strengthen even more our solidarity with the Filipino people in their continuing fight for genuine democracy, economic and social development and national liberation.
Justice for Father Marcelito “Tito” Paez!
Justice for all victims of political killings in the Philippines!
Justice for all victims of human rights violations in the Philippines!