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Father Marcelito "Tito" Paez

HRD & Regional Coordinator
Rural Missionaries of Philippines

Father Marcelito “Tito” Paez was a parish priest in Gumbia and the regional coordinator of Rural Missionaries of Philippines in Central Luzon. In 1980, he was the leader of the Central Luzon Alliance for a Sovereign Philippines (CLASP), and campaigned for the removal of US military bases in the Philippines. He was also an anti-nuclear activist.

The climate of impunity that prevails in the Philippines, combined with the administration’s encouragement of extra-judicial killings of alleged drug users as well as the increasingly hard line taken by the army towards the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, has resulted in the serious deterioration in the situation for human rights defenders in the country. Since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016, HRDs are facing a spate of killings and violence. Judicial harassment and criminalisation of HRDs remain common, with politicians and private actors, such as mining companies, using the criminal justice system to silence those who oppose their interests. HRDs have been accused of violent crimes or of being members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party. HRDs have also reported instances of close monitoring and surveillance by security officials. Since martial law was declared in Mindanao in May 2017, and as there are concerns that it might be extended nationwide, human rights defenders are increasingly targeted with threats, intimidation and harassment from military agents.