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Cabinet member seeks probe into killing of priests, IPs

Cabinet member seeks probe into killing of priests, IPs

In Photo: Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez A left-leaning leader in the Cabinet has urged authorities to investigate the murder of religious figures and indigenous peoples (IPs)…

Cabinet member seeks probe into killing of priests, IPs

In Photo: Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez

A left-leaning leader in the Cabinet has urged authorities to investigate the murder of religious figures and indigenous peoples (IPs) in the past days, which came after peace talks between the government and communists was terminated.

At the same time, Bishop Roberto Mallari of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, has expressed alarm and condemned the killing of retired priest Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez in his diocese.

Four men in two motorcycles ambushed Paez at about 8 p.m. while he was driving his vehicle in Jaen town. He was rushed to the Gonzales General Hospital in the nearby town of San Leonardo but he died around two hours later. He sustained two bullet wounds in his body.

N ational Anti-poverty Commission lead convenor Liza L. Maza said she is gravely concerned over the recent spate of killings involving clerics and indigenous peoples.

“The poor now live in fear of going back to the ‘dark days’ and this is not what the [Duterte] administration has promised,” Maza said in a statement.

“The growing tally of deaths and displacement in rural communities sends a chilling effect to both the democratic process and nation-building,” she added.

She took note of the murder of eight lumad in South Cotabato and of Paez.

Human-rights group Karapatan reported eight lumad were killed last Sunday in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. The indigenous peoples were reportedly occupying an ancestral land and now used as a coffee plantation.

Bayan Muna Party-list group also condemned the killing of Paez and of religious leader Leovelito Quiñones in Mindoro Oriental province last Sunday.

“These attacks against the people who a re only defending and asserting their rights must be stopped,” Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna said in a statement.

Mallari said in a statement: “We strongly condemn the unjust and brutal killing of Fr. Tito Paez.”

He added: “We call on the authorities to conduct an investigation and give justice to his death.”

The bishop also asked the faithful to pray that justice be served immediately.

Paez, 72, had served the diocese for more than 30 years since it was established in 1984. He retired from priestly ministry in 2015.

He was a former parish priest in Guimba town and currently the coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon.

In his service to the Church, he was known for his active involvement in social-justice advocacy, particularly on human-rights issues affecting the poor.

For many years, he also had been part of the diocese’s social-action commission, wherein he led the justice and peace office.

In the 1980s he was also a leader of the Central Luzon Alliance for a Sovereign Philippines, which campaigned for the removal of the US military bases in Central Luzon and other parts of the country.

Earlier in the day, Paez assisted in facilitating the release of political prisoner Rommel Tucay who was detained at a jail in Cabanatuan City.

No group has claimed responsibility for the killing.

According to Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr., the government will look into the murder of Paez and determine whether it was a case of political killing. In the meantime, Roque asked the public to allow authorities to investigate the killing before making a conclusion.

Maza asked the military to deal with civilians with extreme caution during operations. She also called on the national government to “investigate cases of injustices.”

As a former leftist leader, Maza said she is disappointed the government canceled the pe ace talks with the National Democratic Front, the negotiating arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

She added that the termination of the peace talks also means the cessation of negotiations for socio-economic reforms needed to address the root causes of the armed struggle.

“The people’s participation in the democratic process and dissent are invaluable in poverty eradication by addressing its root causes, as well as attaining peace and justice. Only through vigilance can we achieve both,” Maza said.

President Duterte has ended the peace talks with the communists and on Tuesday placed the CPP-NPA on the terrorist list. The government is set to file a petition before a regional trial court to declare the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.

With Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews

Image Credits: CBCP Photo

Sumber: Google News | Warta 24 Muna

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