MANILA – The underground Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Central Luzon condemned the killing this week of an elderly Roman Catholic priest in the province, as they pinpointed two units of the Philippine Army in Nueva Ecija as responsible for the assassination.
Retired priest Marcelito “Tito” Paez, 72, died in a hospital on Dec. 4, hours after he was shot by motorcycle-riding assailants in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. Paez was the regional coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and belonged to the Diocese of San Jose City. He was also a leader of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-Central Luzon) and a prominent figure in anti-US bases and anti-nuclear campaigns in the 80s.
In a statement dated Dec. 5 and sent to Bulatlat today, Dec. 7, Salud Rojas, spokesperson of the CPP-Central Luzon, said the Philippine Army’s 84th infantry battalion and 71st military intelligence company (MICO) are the ones that carried out the assassination.
Rojas said the killing was “meant to sow terror on the people of Nueva Ecija and Central Luzon.”
“Kaya malinaw na walang ibang may motibo sa pagpaslang sa isang katulad ni Fr. Tito Paez kundi ang mga elemento ng reaksyunaryong hukbo ng rehimeng US-Duterte na 84th IB at 71st –MICO na kasalukuyang mga tropang militar na naka deploy sa probinsya ng Nueva Ecija,” said Rojas.
(It is clear that no one else had a motive in the killing of someone like Fr. Tito Paez but the elements of the reactionary army of the US-Duterte regime, the 84th IB and the 71st MICO which are the military troops that are deployed in Nueva Ecija.)
Hours before he was killed on Dec. 4, Paez facilitated the release of political detainee Rommel Tucay, a peasant organizer of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson-Nueva Ecija (AMGL-NE), who was released from the Nueva Ecija provincial jail, after nine months in detention on trumped-up charges.
Rojas said Paez “was among the first victims of the resurgence of fascist rule under Duterte.”
On Nov. 23, Duterte issued Proclamation 360, unilaterally terminating the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). This week, the President declared the CCP and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorist groups” and ordered the filing of petitions in court for their “proscription.”
The CPP-CL spokesperson said the “legal democratic movement is also a target of fascist repression and terrorist attacks.
“Nakatuon ang mga kanyon ng kaniyang pasistang AFP sa mga masang lumalaban – mga magsasakang inaagawan ng lupa, mga manggagawang walang-habas na pinagsasamantalahan, ng mamamayang pinagkakaitan ng makataong karapatan, at mga makabayang nagtatanggol sa pambansang patrimonya at lumalaban sa mga patakarang neoliberal,” Rojas said.
(The fascist AFP has turned its cannons against the struggling people: peasants who are being deprived of land, workers who are being wantonly exploited, citizens being denied of basic human rights, and the patriotic who are defending the national patrimony and are opposing neoliberal policies.)
The CPP-CL noted that Paez also supported peasant initiatives, such as the assertion of their right to land through collective cultivation campaigns. Various peasant groups led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) are engaged in the cultivation movement all over the country.
“Ang lahat ng makatuwirang pakikibakang ito ng masang anakpawis ay direktang sinusuportahan at nilalahukan ni Fr. Tito Paez kaya naman malinaw na nais siyang patahimikin at tuldukan ng mga pasistang hukbo ng rehimeng duterte ang papalawak na suporta at paglaban na ito,” Rojas said in the statement.
(Fr. Tito Paez took part in and supported these legitimate struggles of the working class, and it is clear that the fascist army of the Duterte regime wanted to silence him and put an end to the growing support to these movements.)
The CPP-CL also praised Paez, as they recognized his activism from the martial years up to the time of his death.
“Hanggang sa kaniyang 72 taon, walang maliw siyang nagsilbi sa sambayanan at hindi inalintana ang mga panganib sa kaniyang buhay dahil sa mga adhikaing ito,” said the statement.