What has become of our country? The new killing fields of Asia?
Yesterday at 8:00 in the evening they gunned down Fr. Tito Paez, a 73 year-old retired priest of Nueva Ecija, for the simple reason that he assisted in the release of the political prisoner Rommel Tucay earlier in the day.
He was killed by assassins riding motorcycles in tandem, a manner of murder now so commonplace in the Philippines it is now considered routine alongside illegal arrests, extra judicial killings and forced disappearances. What is happening to our country? Has it become the location of the new killing fields of Asia. Violent death has become a daily occurrence in many of our poor urban neighbourhoods – random, arbitrary, brutal as in cruel and inhuman. It is doubly scary because the unnamed but usual suspects are law enforcers whose declared profession and vocation in life is to protect the lives of the people of this country.
Fr. Tito was my classmate in San Carlos Seminary. I’ve known him as jovial, always smiling often laughing, at ease with everyone and putting anyone he was with at ease. He was the caring pastor of parishioners wherever he was assigned. He was a good shepherd of the people and his one mortal sin, if I may dare to put it that way that attracted the wicked purveyors of death (cf Wisdom 1.16) was his open preference for the victims of oppression and injustice. The very same reason that brought Jesus our Lord, the sinless one who became sin for us, to the cross.
The poor, the excluded and marginalized were the friends of Father Tito Paez. Just like Jesus Christ he witnessed to the truth that “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15.13)
Fr. Wilfredo Dulay, mdj
Convener, The Religious Discernment Group