MANILA – A Roman Catholic priest who was shot and wounded in a gun attack by suspected state security forces in Nueva Ecija earlier this evening, Dec. 4, had died at a hospital.
In an urgent alert, Karapatan secretary general Tinay Palabay said Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez, 72, was driving his vehicle along a road in Jaen town, Nueva Ecija at 8 PM, Dec. 4, when he was attacked by motorcycle-riding assailants. He was rushed to a hospital in San Leonardo, but had died while being treated.
Earlier today, Paez facilitated 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) was arrested in March this year by soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 56th infantry battallion in Carranglan.
Paez, who belonged to the Diocese of San Jose City, was the coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon. A native of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, he was assigned as parish priest in various towns in Nueva Ecija: Sto. Domingo, Guimba, Nampicuan, Rizal, and Gen. Natividad. He retired in 2015. In the 80s, he was also a leader of the Central Luzon Alliance for a Sovereign Philippines (CLASP) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Central Luzon, which campaigned for the removal of the US military bases and against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
He had been at the forefront of campaigns against militarization in Nueva Ecija and Central Luzon, and was known to lead church service for communities and victims of human rights violations.
As a known activist priest, he had been threatened and harassed by the military under the past administrations, specially under that of President Gloria Arroyo.
Paez is the first Catholic priest to become a victim of a political killing under President Duterte.
(This is the updated post, edited from the earlier article, “Nueva Ecija Catholic priest wounded in gun attack,” which we posted shortly before Fr. Paez died. We have also added several details about the slain victim. – Ed.)