Priest drove freed detainee before being gunned down
SAN JOSE CITY—Slain priest Marcelito Paez was asked by a newly freed political detainee, Rommel Tucay, to drive him and his family out of Nueva Ecija province on Monday afternoon, hours before he was shot and killed by two men on a motorcyle, according to Paez’s friend.
Tucay was arrested in March by soldiers in Carranglan town in Nueva Ecija and was detained at the provincial jail in Cabanatuan City. He was acquitted and ordered released by a local court.
“That Friday afternoon, [Paez] drove his van to the provincial jail and met with the released detainee and a group of relatives and friends,” said Apollo de Guzman, a retired priest and close associate of Paez.
“Tucay’s mother requested Father Paez to accompany them as she feared for their safety while traveling to Metro Manila,” De Guzman said.
He said Paez had told him he was on a risky mission in Cabanatuan City but assured him he would be back to attend the anniversary of the priesthood of a fellow priest.
Paez fetched Tucay, his mother, and three other people and proceeded to an undisclosed place where they would transfer to a van on their way to Metro Manila.
Realizing that they were being tailed by a man on a motorcycle, Paez and Tucay decided to proceed to Jaen town.
Tucay and his family later took a vehicle at a churchyard in Jaen that would take them to Metro Manila, leaving Paez.
Four men on motorcycles
In Barangay Lambakin in Jaen, four men on two motorcycles appeared behind Paez’s vehicle. Two of the men then fired at the rear end and the left side of the van. Part of the front windshield was also shattered.
Paez was able to roll down the van’s window and shout: “Pari ako…Pari ako (I’m a priest…I’m a priest).” His assailants sped away.
The priest died before he was to be operated on in a hospital in San Leonardo town.