Priest faces child abuse raps; Palma makes a public apology for priest’s ‘unkind’ behavior
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.
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.
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 judgment,” he said.
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