December 6, 2023

The lawyer representing the complainant in the rape case against a priest under the auspices of the Diocese of Baguio has appealed to the respondent to surrender.

“If he is true to his defense, harapin mo ang kaso and tell the world that you did nothing,” said lawyer Victoria Dines, while expressing apprehension the case might drag on if the accused does not submit to authorities.

The priest, who is accused of committing three counts of rape against the young helper of the organization where he is connected, is currently at-large although the City Prosecutor’s Office is reinvestigating the complaint.

In an order dated Aug. 25, Family Court Branch 2 Presiding Judge Modesto Bahul granted the his motion for reinvestigation on account of the fact that the motion was filed within the 15-day period within which to file an appeal.

However, the court denied the other motion for the recall and lifting of his warrant of arrest.

Citing guidelines on the lifting of warrants of arrest, the court said pending resolution of motion for reconsideration is not a cause for the quashal of a previously issued warrant of arrest because the quashal may only take place if there is no probable cause.

On June 9, the City Prosecutor’s Office found probable cause to indict the priest for three counts of rape which was said to have all been committed in March this year.

On June 14, the court issued a warrant of arrest against the accused.

The court said an arraignment will immediately be set as soon as the accused is in custody of law.

The Midland Courier has tried to get the comment of the church about its action regarding the issue, but Diocese of Baguio Administrator and spokesperson Fr. Roland Buyagan declined to comment.

The paper also tried to get the comment of Ma. Concepcion Santiago, counsel of the accused, but she also declined, saying she is not at liberty to discuss the case.

Meanwhile, Dines said her client has returned to her hometown somewhere in Benguet and is undergoing psycho-social counseling by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office. – Rimaliza A. Opiña