December 8, 2017
H.E. Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Our Coalition calls for your unqualified condemnation of the shooting of Fr Marcelito “Tito” Paez, a servant of God, who selflessly served the Filipino people. On December 4, Father Tito was gunned down by unidentified men while driving his vehicle in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. He was rushed to a hospital in the nearby town of San Leonardo where he died from bullet wounds.
Fr Tito was a courageous human rights advocate and even on his last day he worked for the freedom of a political prisoner, Rommel Tacay. Tacay is the president of the alliance of peasant farmers in Central Luzon. He was arrested in March 2017 by soldiers of the 56th Infantry Battalion, and until yesterday was detained in the provincial jail in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.
Fr Tito was a native of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, and as a priest served in parishes across the province until his retirement in 2015. His pastoral duties were carried out alongside his abiding commitment to social justice and human rights. He was active in organisations opposed to the Marcos dictatorship, and continued that activism in the three decades since. He has been the subject of harassment and threats by elements of the military and the previous administrations in the Philippines.
At the time of his death, Fr Tito was the coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) in Central Luzon. He is the first Catholic priest killed under youor Presidency.
Fr Tito’s death follows that of Pastor Lovelito Quinones of the Kings Glory Ministry in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro who was shot by the Regional Mobile Group (RMG) on December 3, 2017, allegedly in an encounter. The military insisted that the pastor was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). Meanwhile, eight Indigenous leaders were killed by soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion in the province of South Cotabato, Mindanao, also on the 3rd of December, 2017.
Excellency, you have often stated that you support killings, and not only of drug pushers. You have repeatedly condemned human rights activists and promised a new campaign of terror when turning away from efforts for peace and talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The murder of Fr Paez, and of Pastor Quinones, and of these latest eight peasant leaders in south Cotobato and the direct result of your actions, which you must now retract, and instead condemn all extra-judicial killings without qualification.
We call for:
- The immediate investigation of the shooting to death of Fr Marcelito Paez, Pastor Lovelito Quinones, and the eight indigenous leaders in South Cotobato, to be conducted by an independent body.
- Prosecution of the perpetrators of these murders.
- Urgent re-starting of the Peace Talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on its current agenda item of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms to address the roots of the social conflict.
- An end to your administration’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan which encourages extra-judicial killings and the filing of trumped-up cases against activists, community leaders and civilians.
- The Philippine Government to pursue its commitments under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL); and
- The Philippine Government to adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major Human Rights instruments to which it is a signatory.
Global Council, ICHRP
Vitaliano Aguirre, Secretary, Department of Justice, [email protected]
Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, [email protected]
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Ms Julie Bishop MHR [email protected]
Shadow Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Senator Penny Wong [email protected]
Australian Greens Foreign Affairs Spokesperson [email protected]
KARAPATAN [email protected]