“A devil’s doing”
Anakpawis solon condemns killing of priest supporting farmers’ rights in Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon
Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao condemned in the highest possible terms the brutal extra-judicial killing of Catholic priest Father Marcelito “Tito” Paez in Jaen town, Nueva Ecija yesterday evening. Paez is the regional coordinator for Central Luzon of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP).
Fr. Paez is the latest addition to the list of victims coming from the religious sector of extra-judicial killings in Central Luzon. The incident is reminiscent of the ruthless killing of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Fr. William Tadeña in March 2005 in La Paz, Tarlac, and Bishop Alberto Ramento in October 2006 in Tarlac City, both were supporters of Hacienda Luisita farmers. Moreover, Dutch Missionary and development worker Willem Geertman who was also a supporter of farmers in Central Luzon was killed in July 2012 in Angeles City, Pampanga.
“We condemn this as most evil, killing of a priest who is helping the rural poor, we demand justice for Fr. Paez, we demand a stop to the killings,” Casilao said in a statement.
He added that the victim was active in helping farmers in Nueva Ecija haciendas, against displacement and land grabbing, as well as, the continuous actions of Hacienda Luisita farmers in Tarlac. He was once a victim of red-baiting under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime.
Aside from Fr. Paez, another church leader was killed in Mansalay town, Oriental Mindoro last December 3. Kings Glory Ministry Pastor Lovelito Quińones was killed by alleged elements of the Philippine National Police Public Safety Battalion. While last night, the national office of Kilusang Mayo Uno was barged into by the police who attempted to arrest George San Mateo, leader of the Piston transport group.
“We warn against the pattern comparable to what the butcher Major General Palparan has wreaked against activists, Oplan Bantay Laya led to the killings of church people, local government officials, lawyers and other middle sectors who are supporting the campaigns of farmers and workers, everything, EJK, trumped up charges, total militarization of farmer communities was on the blueprint of OBL, we hold culpable the Duterte government and its national security chief Hermogenes Esperon, who then executed the brutal campaign against activists,” Casilao said.
The lawmaker guaranteed to push for a congressional inquiry on the extra-judicial killing of Fr. Paez and Pastor Quińones.
Casilao urged the public to oppose this assault on democratic rights and expressed condemnation to the measures of the Duterte government.