Philippines: Human rights defender Father Marcelito Paez shot dead

On 4 December 2017, Father Marcelito “Tito” Paez, coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of Philippines in Central Luzon, was shot dead in Nueva Ecija.

Father Marcelito “Tito” Paez was a former parish priest in Gumbia and the regional coordinator of Rural Missionaries of Philippines in Central Luzon. In the 1980, he was the a leader of the Central Luzon Alliance for a Sovereign Philippines (CLASP), and campaigned for the removal of US military bases in Philippines. He was also an anti-nuclear activist.

On December 4, at around 8pm, Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez was shot while driving his vehicle in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija. He was shot by unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle. He was taken to San Leonardo Hospital where he died at 10.45pm. Earlier that day, Fr Marcelito “Tito” Paez assisted in facilitating the release of peasant organiser and political prisoner Rommel Tucay, who was detained at the provincial jail in Cabanatuan city.

The climate of impunity that prevails in the Philippines has resulted in the serious deterioration in the situation for human rights defenders in the country. Defenders of economic, social and cultural rights, including land and environmental defenders, are among the most targeted groups. Filipino NGO Karapatan reported there have been 98 victims of extrajudicial killings between July 2016 and September 2017. On 28 November 2017, HRDs Elisa Badayos and Eleuterio Moises were shot and killed in the Negros Oriental province.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the killing of Father Marcelito “Tito” Paez which it believes was solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful activities in the defence of human rights in the Philippines.