Retired Catholic prelate starts probe on priest nabbed with minor

MANILA — A retired Catholic prelate has started the investigation on the case of relieved Taytay priest Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said he was assigned by Antipolo Bishop Francisco de Leon to look into the case.

“Last Sunday, I personally went to Antipolo and I had a talk with Bishop Francis de Leon. I was assigned as instructor delegate in this pedophile case,” Cruz said in an interview.

Asked on how long the process would be, “It would take less than a year to process it. Ito kasing kaso na ito this is considered as the gravest violation of the commandments ‘yung abuse of minors. That’s why it has a special congregation…’yung ibang violation ng pari congregation for the clergy pero kapag minors congregation of the faith…”

“I don’t know it depends how fast I could gather evidence…how fast I could get my testimonies etc, etc.,” he said, adding that he will interview the people involved including the priest, the victim.”

“Oo puntahan ko. Sabihin ko lang gusto mo ba magsalita kung ayaw nya ‘di huwag. Pagka talagang hindi pwede, hindi ko kausapin,” Cruz said.

He explained that once the Vatican has decided on the case, it would be the Bishop of Antipolo that will be informed about the ruling.

“Malalaman ‘yun eventually kung ano decision Roma…ang makakaalam nun ‘yung obispo. Ako gagawa kaso padala ko sa Roma tapos sasagot sila sa obispo. Siya na bahala if divulge nya,” Cruz added.

Earlier, the Diocese of Antipolo said they will respect the law as the Catholic priest is facing human trafficking charges.

“We assure that we respect the necessary procedures as provided by law in order to further investigate this matter,” it said in a statement.

At the same time, the diocese asked the public to “refrain from issuing unnecessary comments that might worsen the situation” and instead appeal “for all the faithful to pray that the truth may come out.”

Last Friday, Lagarejos was nabbed in an entrapment operation with a 13-year-old girl whom he met on social media in Marikina City.

Since his arrest, the 55-year-old priest has been stripped of all his duties in the diocese including his position as president of Cainta Catholic College.

Authorities said the entrapment was supposedly conducted to apprehend minors involved in prostitution.

Meanwhile, the 16-year-old gay pimp, who supposedly facilitated the meeting and the victim are now under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Ferdinand Patinio/