By Sheen Crisologo
Jaen, Nueva Ecija — Catholic priest and known activist Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez, 72, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding assailants while driving his vehicle along a road in this town the other night.
Police said Fr. Paez was attacked while driving his vehicle around 8 p.m. He was taken to a hospital in the neighboring town of San Leonardo, but expired later due to two severe bullet wounds in the body.
It will be recalled that Paez was the priest who facilitated the release of political detainee Rommel Tucay, an organizer of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson-Nueva Ecija (AMGL-NE), who was captured last March by soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion.
Paez served the diocese for more than 30 years since its erection in 1984 then retired from the priestly ministry in 2015.
Fr. Tito, as Novo Ecijanos call him, is known for his active stand against human rights violations and militarization in the province.
Nueva Ecija Bishop Roberto Mallari condemned his killing and called on the authorities to conduct investigation and bring forth justice.
Militant group Karapatan dispatched a fact-finding mission to investigate the killing of the priest.
Senior Superintendent Eliseo Tucay, Police Provincial Office (PPO) director, said there no suspects yet in the case. (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)