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Gov’t urged: Stop violence against church people

Gov’t urged: Stop violence against church people

Mourners carry a banner bearing the words ‘Justice for Fr. Tito Paez’ during the funeral march for the slain priest in San Jose City, Dec. 11, 2017. JUN SANTIAGO, CSsR

MANILA – The Catholic Church’s social action arm called on the government to stop the attacks against church people following the killing of a 72-year old priest.

The National Secretariat for Social Acton – Justice and Peace (Nassa) in a statement said authorities must take immediate actions against the violence and hold those responsible to account.

The said letter did not name names but urged the government to stop its “security forces” from lodging attacks against church leaders and workers.

“Nassa demands the government to stop its security forces from acts of violence on church people who commit themselves to serve and work with the poor towards empowerment and development,” said its head Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona.

The prelate stressed that as long as the government only serves the few, “conflict of interest” may push the institution to attack anyone who works for social justice.

“Church people are only complementing the government’s task in promoting, defending, and fulfilling the human rights of the Filipinos for common good,” he said.

The archbishop’s statement came more than a week after the cold-blooded murder of Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez in Jaen town, Nueva Ecija by still unidentified gunmen.

The Dec. 4 attacks occurred hours after Paez, a coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon, facilitated the release of a political prisoner in Cabanatuan City.

Government critics believe the priest was executed by government security forces because of his advocacy.

“For the sake of justice and rule of law, Nassa calls upon the Duterte government to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and arrest of the perpetrators to give justice for the death of Fr. Tito,” Tirona added.

Militant groups said at least two religious leaders were killed in the country since last week.

Last Dec. 3, Pastor Lovelito Quiñones of the King’s Glory Ministry was killed in Mindoro by a police regional mobile force because of his alleged link to the New People’s Army. CBCPNews