Palace assures probe on retired priest’s murder, but cautions against ‘political killing’ tag

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Harry L. Roque, Jr., presidential spokesperson, answers questions from members of the Malacañang Press Corps at the New Executive Building (NEB) in Malacañang on November 2, 2017. — Facebook screenshot/Presidential Communications

MALACAÑANG ON Tuesday assured the public that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will investigate the murder of Nueva Ecija priest Fr. Marcelino “Tito” Paez, but cautioned against labeling the crime as a “political killing”. “Like all killings, they will be investigated by police authorities. And if there’s sufficient evidence to charge anyone, then authorities are duty-bound to file the necessary information,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr said in a press briefing. However, he said, “(W)e do not know yet if this is a political killing pursuant to the definition of the Supreme Court on extralegal killings … which is a killing of political activist and a killing of journalist,” he said. Mr. Paez, a former parish priest in Guimba and currently coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon, was shot on Monday while driving at San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija. Earlier that day, Mr. Paez assisted in facilitating the release of political prisoner Rommel Tucay detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Cabanatuan. Administrative Order No. 35 defines extrajudicial or political killings as those wherein the victim was “a member of, or affiliated with an organization, to include political, environment, agrarian, labor, or media practitioner, or person(s) apparently mistaken or identified to be so. — Rosemarie A. Zamora