San Jose: Bishop Roberto Mallari of San Jose has expressed alarm at the killing of an elderly priest in his diocese in the Philippines.
Four men in two motorcycles ambushed Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez at about 8pm (5:30 India time) on December 4 while he was driving his vehicle in Jaen town.
The priest, who sustained two bullet wounds on his body, was rushed to a hospital in the nearby town of San Leonardo but he died around two hours later.
“We strongly condemn the unjust and brutal killing of Fr. Tito Paez,” Bishop Mallari said. “We called on the authorities to conduct an investigation and give justice to his death.”
The bishop also asked the faithful to pray that justice will be served immediately.
Paez, 72, has served the diocese for more than 30 years since its erection in 1984. He retired from priestly ministry in 2015.
In his service to the Church, he was known for his active involvement in social justice advocacy, particularly on human rights issues affecting the poor.
For many years, he also had been part of the diocese’s social action commission wherein he led the justice and peace office.
At the time of his death, Father Paez was the coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon.
In the 1980s, he was also a leader of the Central Luzon Alliance for a Sovereign Philippines, which campaigned for the removal of the US military bases in Central Luzon and other parts of the country.
He was also known to lead church service for communities and victims of human rights violations in Nueva Ecija and Central Luzon.
Earlier on December 4, Father Paez assisted in facilitating the release of political prisoner Rommel Tucay who was detained at a jail in Cabanatuan City.
No group has claimed responsibility for the killing.