Now comes the news that the Marikina City Prosecutor’s Office allowed Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos, the priest caught with a 13-year-old girl while on the way to a motel over the weekend, to post bail and was released from detention at 2:49 p.m. on Tuesday.
In a resolution, Prosecutors Nikolai Salinas, Ricardo Paet Jr. and Linda Adame-Conos granted Lagarejos’ petition and was allowed to post bail of P120,000.
Lagarejos is facing a complaint for violation of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
Meanwhile, the 16-year-old pimp involved was not allowed to post bail.
The case against Lagarejos is wrong on so many levels.
First of all, he should have been charged with rape, even if it was not consummated. A criminal act remains a criminal act if there is intent or pre-meditation.
But I can see why the priest was not charged with rape.
The Anti-Rape Law of 1997 otherwise known as R.A. 8353 describes rape as a sexual act with anyone below 12 year of age. In Chapter Three, it says rape is committed “when the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented,” which means over that age it is approved provided there is consent and no force used. THIS LAW NEEDS TO BE CHANGED!
Common sense dictates that consent is not necessarily present even when the child is 13 years old. She was forced into a sexual encounter with the priest. By a pimp.
Granting that prosecutors don’t have the legal basis to charge the priest with rape under RA 8353, there is another law, RA 7610, which provides for special protection against child abuse and exploitation. This law protects those who are under 18 years of age.
What is a greater form of child abuse than rape?
The decision to grant bail to Lagarejos sends the wrong message to sex traffickers, rapists and child abusers. And it definitely creates the perception that “men of God” receive special treatment under civil law, when strictly speaking, they should be held to higher standards.