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Church group blames gov’t for attacks on priests

December 18, 2017 ·  By Julie M. Aurelio for newsinfo.inquirer.net

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The social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines blamed the government for recent incidents of violence against church people who work for and with the poor.

“[The National Secretariat for Social Action (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 toward empowerment and development,” Nassa said in a statement.

Nassa made the call as it again condemned the murder of retired priest Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez, who was ambushed while driving in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, on Dec. 4.

The statement was dated Dec. 13, two days after Paez’s burial in San Jose City, and signed by Nassa national director and Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tirona and Nassa executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez.

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

The group warned that attacks against clergymen are attacks against the Catholic Church and her mission.

Conflicts of interest

“The brutal killing is an attack to the Church and her mission for social justice and empowerment of the poor,” Nassa said.

They added that should acts of violence against churchmen continue, this would only show that the government “only serves and works for, and with the ‘few.’”

“As long as the government only serves and works for and with the ‘few,’ conflicts of interest may fuel government to attack anyone or groups who work for social justice and common good,” it said.

Attacks against clergymen will also create a social awareness among Filipinos that those working in social development in the community level are not safe, and that the human rights situation is getting worse.

Deterioration of values

“It reflects the deterioration of values and respect of human life, especially those who are mandated to protect human rights,” Nassa added.

The group did not say how it came to the conclusion

that the government was involved in the killing of Paez, except for a reference to what Paez was doing hours before he was killed.

Hours before his murder, Paez—a coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines—helped facilitate the release of a supposed political prisoner Rommel Tucay in Cabanatuan City.

At the same time, however, Nassa urged the government to thoroughly probe Paez’s murder and arrest his killers.

No development

While the police expressed sadness at Paez’s death and vowed to “work 24/7” to resolve the killing, there has been no word on the investigation of a special group created for the case.

Central Luzon Chief Supt. Amador Corpuz created a special investigation task group (SITG), headed by Nueva Ecija provincial police director Sr. Supt. Eliseo Tanding.

The creation of the SITG was directed by PNP Deputy Director General Ramon Apolinario, said PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos.

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