Priests called for an end to extrajudicial killings and blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for the death of 72-year-old Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez, who was killed by assassins in Nueva Ecija last Dec. 5.
Fr. Oliver Castor, who considered Paez his “mentor,” blamed Duterte for the death, saying the regime’s culture of killings must stop.
“We accuse you of these killings! This is your policy, this is your government’s policy,” he said during the International Human Rights Day protest at the Bonifacio Shrine in Manila last Dec. 10.
Paez, director of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), was shot by gunmen aboard a motorcycle around 7:30 p.m. while he was driving his Toyota Innova. He died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Castor, a board member of RMP, said Paez’s death was similar to the vigilante-style killings by the Davao Death Squad when Duterte was still Davao City mayor.
“Ang istilo ng pagkapaslang kay Fr. Tito ay modus operandi ng Davao Death Squad noong [si Duterte] pa ay mayor ng Davao. Pinag-aralan ko po, mga kapatid, ang modus operandi at kaparehas na kaparehas po ang pagpaslang kay Fr. Tito,” he said.
Castor said Fr. Tito’s death was premeditated, considering he was shot nine times.
“Isang motorsiklo ang humarang sa kanya at pinagbabaril ang kanyang sasakyan. Siyam ang tama ni Fr. Tito, talagang papatayin nila [siya],” he said.
Paez was known for providing services to victims of human rights violations in Central Luzon.
‘Not the time for fear’
Castor also urged the laity to get involved in social issues.
“This is not the time for fear, this is the time for courage, and siguro time for hope,” he told the Varsitarian.
“Malala ang paglabag sa karapatang panto ngayon sa ilalim ng Duterte administration kaya nandito kami para tutulan `yung continuing human rights violations,” he added.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Archdiocese of Manila agreed.
“[D]apat talagang paninindigan ‘yan. Kapag ang [human rights] ay binabalewala, ‘yan ay pang-aatake sa tao,” he said in an interview.
Kathy Panguban of the National Union of People’s Lawyers said the rising number of human rights violations under the Duterte administration was alarming and should not be ignored further.
The International Human Rights Day protest was organized by Movement Against Tyranny.