A year after the Lake Sebu massacre and killing of Fr. Marcelito Paez: Massacres and killings still an everyday reality

“Today, we remember, both in grief and anger, the massacre of eight Lumad and the killing of Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato and Nueva Ecija, respectively. Indeed, we are confronted every day with a string of rights violations, from killings, torture, illegal arrests, and various forms of harassment. The Duterte regime has turned the entire country into a killing field and has set a new threshold for State terror,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on the 1st anniversary of the Lake Sebu massacre and the killing of Fr. Marcelito Paez. 
 
On December 3, 2017, composite elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army and the marines massacred eight T’boli and Dulangan Manobo in Sitio Datal Bong Langon, Brgy. Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. The said indigenous peoples were occupying the area landgrabbed by the Consunjis, used by the corporation as a coffee plantation; the said land area is part of the Dulangan Manobo and T’boli ancestral domain. The Consunjis have long been operating in the ancestral domains of different indigenous communities in the region. Killed were Victor Danyan, Victor Danyan Jr., Artemio Danyan, Pato Celardo, Samuel Angkoy, To Diamante, Bobot Lagase, and Mateng Bantal. 

The next day, on December 4, at around 8pm, Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez, former parish priest in Guimba and currently coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon, was shot while driving his vehicle at San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija. Earlier that day, Fr. Tito assisted in facilitating the release of political prisoner Rommel Tucay who was detained at the BJMP jail in Cabanatuan. Fr. Paez was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“This is the chilling effect of the Duterte regime’s fascist policies and pronouncements, one on top of the other. We condemn Duterte and his militarist government for masterminding the policies, foremost this regime’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, which has instigated these attacks. Duterte and his State forces have declared an open season for killings and rights violations against Filipinos, particularly those that have continued to fight the government’s anti-people policies,” said Palabay. 

“One year later after the massacre of Lumads and the killing of a beloved priest, the Duterte regime keeps on adding to its list of crimes against the Filipino people. Duterte and his bloodthirsty military and police have a record of 13 massacres, 216 political killings and more than 20,000 killings related to the sham drug war under its leadership. Clearly, this is not a government that respects and protects human rights. This is a brutal, murderous leadership that champions State terrorism through the devious implementation of fascist policies,” Palabay further said.

“We are to commemorate the International Day of Human Rights again this coming December 10, 2018. We are reminded of the violations perpetrated by this murderous regime, and the many victims and lives it has irreversibly damaged. Our resolve to keep fighting has not wavered despite the onslaught of attacks. On the contrary, the Duterte regime has strengthened our commitment to fight for people’s rights. Justice for the victims of the Lake Sebu massacre! Justice for Fr. Tito Paez! Justice for all the victims of the Duterte regime!” concluded Palabay.