By: Dan Bergin
A retired parish priest who devoted his life to his parishioners, and working for justice and peace, was shot dead in the Philippines on Monday night. Fr Marcelito Paez, 72, was killed by gunmen on a motorbike has he was driving home in Jane, in Nueva Ecija province in Central Luzon.
Police said bystanders saw a motorbike following Fr Marcelito's car and witnessed the shooting. They rushed the priest to to hospital but he was declared dead on arrival, with multiple bullet wounds.
Bishop Roberto Mallari San Jose diocese said the killing as "brutal and cowardly." Fr Marcelito served as a parishpriest for 30 years. After his retirement in 2015 he continued to work as coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon. He was also involved in campaigns to protect the right of the poor and farmers.
Bishop Mallari said Fr Marcelito has given his whole life for the people. During the Marcos dictatorship he opposed the construction of the controversial Bataan nuclear power plant because it was located in an earthquake zone. The plant was not built.
Bishop Mallari said it was "a challenge for us priests, to be ready to stand up for truth, justice and for the good of the people especially to those who have no voice."
The 'Promotion of Church People's Response' group, issued a statement condemning the killing saying Fr Marcelito was well known as an advocate of human rights, peace and justice "not only in the diocese but throughout the country."