We strongly condemn the brutal killing of Fr. Tito Paez last December 4 in Nueva Ejica. Fr Tito as a priest of the San Jose Nueva Ecija Diocese was coordinator of the Central Luzon Region of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Board member of Alay Bayan Incorporated, a disaster relief NGO, and an active member of the National Clergy Discernment Group. Fr Tito had come from facilitating the release of a political prisoner, one of around 500 political prisoners held unjustly on trumped up charges because they dared to struggle for a better society.
Fr Tito, living in a society where poverty, exploitation, demolitions and killings have become the norm, was compelled by his Christian faith to stand by the victims and those struggling for justice. He has now become one of the victims of this increasingly tyrannical society where human life is expendable. Fr Tito has been consistent since the time of martial law in standing with those who most need to feel the presence of the church, giving witness to the true meaning of his ordination as a priest.
We salute the courage with which Fr Tito stood by his belief that a better society was possible. While we mourn his loss, we also remember what Bishop Ramento said that even though he may be killed, yet his spirit will live on in the people. This will be the same with Tito: they may have killed him but his death only encourages those who strive for justice, peace and democracy to double their efforts. The spirit of the people for freedom cannot be killed but only strengthened as tyranny increases.
We condemn the senseless killings which are increasing. We demand that the GPH renew the Peace Talks with the NDFP. The Duterte Regime claims the climate is not conducive. It is exactly at that time when things seem the worst that the revival of peace talks is most needed. Only when the roots of the armed conflict are resolved will the people experience fullness of life.We call for justice for Fr Tito and call on all peoples of good will not to let his death be in vain. We will continue to be inspired by his living out of his Christian faith and join the people in their continuing struggle for a society where all can live in peace and security, enjoying a life where they no longer experience hunger, poverty, landlessness, homelessness. It is this continuing struggle for life which incarnates the hope we reflect on during this Advent season. We will not forget Fr Tito.