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Diocese says won't shield Msgr. Lagarejos from prosecution

The Catholic Diocese of Antipolo said on Tuesday that they would not shield Monsignor Arnel Lagarejos from the legal cases he was facing for allegedly soliciting a 13-year-old girl for sex.

And even if the courts acquit Lagarejos in the RA 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act) case, Church officials would still hold him accountable for his actions.

"The diocese makes it clear that it will not in any way condone or abet the trafficking or persons, nor protect the offenders from prosecution, and subsequent trial and punishment when the evidence so warrants,” the Antipolo Diocese said in a post on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.

“The conclusions of the processes of the Church are independent of whatever conclusions may be reached by the authorities of the State,” the statement explained.

The diocese also revealed that they had reached out to the 13-year-old victim, offering her counseling and psychological services "with sincere love, affection and compassion."

The post also said Bishop Francis de Leon replaced Lagarejos as parish priest of Saint John the Baptist Parish in Taytay, Rizal and as president of the Cainta Catholic College.

Meanwhile, the CBCP, which had suspended Lagarejos, was also investigating the matter.

The victim's mother reportedly received threatening phone calls asking her to drop the case against Lagarejos, who was free after posting the P120,000 bail.

Lagarejos was arrested last Sunday during a police entrapment operation. — Margaret Claire Layug/DVM, GMA News