The Catholic Church will conduct its own investigation into allegations that Arnel Lagarejos, a priest from a parish in Taytay, Rizal, had “booked” for sexual services a 13-year-old girl through a 16-year-old pimp.
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, who was assigned to lead the inquiry, said he had already told the archbishop of Antipolo that the case should be investigated based on church laws besides the investigation being done by the police.
“At ganon po ang mangyayari ngayon. So dalawa pong saligang batas so to speak ang maglilitis sa pari na ito kung ang kanyang pagkakamali ay totoo nga o ‘yon ay haka-haka lamang [And that’s what will happen now. So there will be two constitutions so to speak that will try whether the priest’s alleged mistakes were true or were just speculations],” he told News5 in an interv
According to Cruz, once the investigation is completed, the evidence will be sent to the Vatican and it will be the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy that will decide whether Lagarejos is guilty and should be punished.
“Kung tapos na po ang proseso…kung may nakuhang ebidensya o wala, papadala po sa Roma at ang Roma po ang magpapasya kung ‘yong pari ay paparusahan,” Cruz said in a separate interview with radio dzMM Monday.
He said the Church’s investigation team would look into Lagarejos’ activities including his performance and evaluation as a priest and talk to witnesses who have direct knowledge about the allegations being hurled at the 55-year-old priest.
“Nakafolder na po ang kaso, nakahanda na ang mga papeles na kailangan [The case is already in a folder and the documents that will be used for the inquiry have already been prepared],” said Cruz.
The archbishop said Lagarejos “remains innocent until proven guilty” but said the allegation “is a very serious offense.”
“Mabigat na mabigat pong kaso ‘yan para sa simbahan,” said Cruz.
Lagarejos, who was president of the Cainta Catholic College and currently parish priest of St. John the Baptist in Taytay, Rizal, was detained at the Marikina Police headquarters after he was arrested in the city Friday night while inside his gray Ford explorer with plate number TGO 350 at the parking area of Blue Wave Mall along Sumulong Hi-Way in Barangay Sto. Niño.
He was with the girl and the two were allegedly on their way to a motel. Authorities recovered from Lagarejos his cellphone that allegedly contained messages of his transactions with the pimp and the victim, who is now in the custody of the Marikina Police Women and Children’s Protection Desk.
It was the mother of the victim who tipped the police about Lagarejos.
Marikina police chief Senior Supt. Roger Quesada told media that it wasn’t the first time that Lagarejos booked the girl for her sexual services.
He said the victim was allegedly paid by the priest P2,500 per booking and that the girl and her pimp didn’t know that Lagarejos was a priest.