Priest faces child abuse raps; Palma makes a pub­lic apol­ogy for priest’s ‘un­kind’ be­hav­ior

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Delta Dyrecka Leti­gio COR­RE­SPON­DENT

The par­ish priest of the Na­tiv­ity of Mary Par­ish in Barangay Can­du­man, Man­daue City, who has been jailed for hit­ting his house­hold cook’s daugh­ter will not be able to get away from the charges of child abuse de­spite the mother back­ing off from the case.

The mother of the 15-year-old vic­tim, who could not be named be­ing the mother of a mi­nor, told

CEBU DAILY NEWS that she would no longer pur­sue the charges against Rev. Fr. Deco­roso Olmilla, as the sit­u­a­tion has been ag­gra­vated by the spread of “false” ru­mors on­line.

“Dili man unta ko gana­han makahibawo ang daghang tawo. Apan daghan na kaayo ning­gawas sa Face­book nga mga sto­rya-sto­rya (I did not want a lot of peo­ple to know. How­ever, many sto­ries have spread on Face­book),” she said on a phone call.

She clar­i­fied that the sit­u­a­tion was not as grave as has been re­ported and that her daugh­ter was not “beaten” by the priest but was “only hit a few times.”

PO1 Jine­lyn For­mentera of the Women’s and Child Wel­fare Desk of the Can­du­man Po­lice Sta­tion said the 15-year-old daugh­ter of Olmilla’s cook has ac­cused the priest of phys­i­cal and ver­bal abuse.

The girl al­leged that Olmilla cussed, hit her bot­tom with an empty box, and kicked her body after she failed to feed his two pet Labradors on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

A neigh­bor of the priest called the po­lice after the child went to the neigh­bor to ask for help.

The mother said she later told the po­lice that she would rather set­tle the case qui­etly.

“Gana­han ra gyud ko ma- set­tle ni tanan. Gana­han ra ko nga dili na to niya (Olmilla) buha­ton ba­lik (I just re­ally want to set­tle this. I only want that Olmilla will not do those things again),” the mother added.

How­ever, the Man­daue City Po­lice Of­fice (MCPO) pro­ceeded with lodg­ing a for­mal com­plaint against the priest be­fore the city’s prose­cu­tor’s of­fice.

Freed on bail

Chief Insp. Mercy Vil­laro, the in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer of MCPO, told CDN that they filed a com­plaint for vi­o­la­tion of Repub­lic Act 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law against the priest on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Vil­laro said the po­lice and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies such as the City So­cial Wel­fare and Ser­vices (CSWS) or even the De­part­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment (DSWD) were also con­tem­plat­ing fil­ing charges against the priest.

“Wala man ni back out.

Bisan pag mo dili og file

ang mama, pwede mo- file

ang po­lice, CSWS, ug ang barangay of­fi­cials. (We did not back out. Even if the mother will not file the case, the po­lice, CSWS, and barangay of­fi­cials of Can­du­man can do it on their own),” said Vil­laro.

Vil­laro said that since the vic­tim is a mi­nor, the law al­lows th­ese agen­cies to file charges against the per­pe­tra­tor on her be­half.

The priest was de­tained at the Can­du­man po­lice sta­tion after the charges have been filed against him at past 3 p.m. But be­fore 5 p.m. yes­ter­day, Olmilla se­cured his tem­po­rary lib­erty and was freed after post­ing a bail of P80,000.

Re­lieved

Cebu Arch­bishop Jose Palma on Fri­day of­fi­cially re­lieved Olmilla from his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as the

par­ish priest of the Na­tiv­ity of Mary while the in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tin­ued.

To take his place is the Vicar Gen­eral of the Arch­dio­cese of Cebu, Mon­signor Daniel San­ico, who will take over the par­ish and put it to or­der after the sit­u­a­tion erupted.

“I think that the pres­ence of the Vicar Gen­eral will help the par­ish. I have tasked him to take care of the spir­i­tual needs of the parish­ioners,” said Palma.

De­spite the re­lief of Olmilla from the par­ish, Palma as­sured that he could still prac­tice his priestly du­ties else­where.

How­ever, Palma ad­mit­ted that the Pa­pal Nun­cio or the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Pope to the Philip­pines, in­structed him to en­cour­age Olmilla to stay in a re­treat house or go back to his home­town to rest as the in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tinue, which is the pro­to­col in the Catholic Church for sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions.

Olmilla may not be as­signed in a par­ish any­time soon.

Apol­ogy

Palma also apol­o­gized to the pub­lic and the faith­ful for ac­tions of the par­ish priest, which he de­scribed as “un­kind” to do to a child who was re­port­edly sick with epilepsy.

“I apol­o­gize to the peo­ple who are sad­dened or shocked by this news, scan­dal­ized even. Some peo­ple may ask, how can a priest do it? We will wait for the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” said the prelate.

How­ever, Palma said he will re­serve his judg­ments on the is­sue un­til the end of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion process, which he sup­ports all through­out.

The prelate as­sured that the Catholic Church will not get in the way with the in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the au­thor­i­ties on the case and will pro­vide le­gal aid for the priest and even for the vic­tim, if they re­quested it.

“I would like to as­sure the pub­lic that we will not be in the way for jus­tice. We will let jus­tice take its course,” said Palma.

Con­se­quently, the arch­bishop as­signed three Canon Law ex­perts — Mon­signor Raul Go, Mon­signor Danny San­ico, and Fr. Sher­win Fer­rater — to in­ves­ti­gate the case from the per­spec­tive of the Church.

“They are ex­perts and are ex­pe­ri­enced in in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases such as th­ese. I trust that they will make a sound judge­ment,” he said.

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