MANILA-- The Diocese of Antipolo has condemned all activities connected to the trafficking of persons.
"It condemns in the strongest terms possible the trafficking of persons. History will prove the claim that the Church has, at various times in its history, been the instrument of the liberation of trafficked persons," the Catholic diocese said in a statement.
"The Diocese of Antipolo makes it clear that it will not in any way condone or abet the trafficking of persons, particularly of minors, nor protect the offenders from prosecution, and subsequent trial and punishment when the evidence so warrants," it added.
The statement was issued amid charges filed against Taytay parish priest Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos for violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
With this, the Antipolo Diocese said they are coordinating with the authorities regarding the investigation against the priest over his supposed involvement in the trafficking of a 13-year old girl in Marikina City.
"Even as his guilt remains to be proved and the precepts of the Constitution grant him the presumption of innocence, the Diocese has taken every step to hold him answerable for the charges brought against him both before the Republic and before the Church," it said.
The statement added, "The Diocese will fully cooperate with the investigating and prosecuting authorities."
Also, the Antipolo Diocese is ready to offer spiritual and psychological assistance to the alleged victim.
"Whatever counseling and psychological services may be available in the diocese, we offer in sincere love, affection and compassion to the child, who, it is our understanding, has been in the keeping of traffickers in the past," said the Diocese.
Lagarejos has already been relieved of all his pastoral assignments in the Diocese as well as being barred from having contact with all except for his lawyer, his brother-priests, and church authorities.
Last Friday, the priest was nabbed in an entrapment operation where he was caught in the act of taking a minor to a motel.
Source: Philippine News Agency