THE Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Thursday called on the government to stop the attacks on church people following the killing of priest Marcelito Paez in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.
The CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Acton, Justice and Peace chairman, Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, said the authorities must take immediate action and hold those responsible to account.
The pastoral statement did not name names but urged the government to stop its “security forces” from lodging attacks against church leaders and workers.
“Nassa demands that the government 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,” Tirona said.
Paez, 72, was abducted by still unidentified gunmen on Dec. 4.
The abduction 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.
Tirona said as long as the government only served the few, “conflict of interest” could push the institution to attack anyone working for social justice.
“Church people are only complementing the government’s task in promoting, defending and fulfilling the human rights of Filipinos for the common good,” he said.
“For the sake of justice and the rule of law, Nassa calls upon the Duterte government to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and arrest the perpetrators.”