MANILA, Philippines – Monsignor Arnel Lagarejos posted bail and temporarily walked free on Tuesday, August 1, as he stands accused of human trafficking for "booking" a 13-year-old girl through a pimp.
The Marikina City police said Lagarejos posted bail worth P120,000 ($2,377).
The priest left the Marikina City police station around 3 pm on Tuesday, after spending almost 3 days in the Marikina City police jail.
Video from television network GMA-7 showed Lagarejos leaving the Marikina City police station wearing black clothes and carrying a small bag, his head covered with a blue bandana. The priest walked swiftly and evaded the media.
Lagarejos, 55, faces a human trafficking case after police caught him in an entrapment operation last Friday evening, July 28. He had allegedly "booked" a 13-year-old girl for sex.
On the same day that Lagarejos posted bail, the Diocese of Antipolo vowed no cover-up in his case, as it also condemned human trafficking "in the strongest terms possible."
Church launches probe
The diocese pointed out that Lagarejos "has been relieved of all his pastoral assignments and is forbidden from having contact with all but his lawyer, his brother-priests, and church authorities."
Lagarejos was president of Cainta Catholic College. He was also parish priest of Saint John the Baptist Parish in Poblacion, Taytay, Rizal.
Police said, however, that Lagarejos initially identified himself to them as "self employed."
The diocese added, "He is particularly forbidden from any communication with minors and from maintaining company with them in any way whatsoever."
The church is conducting a parallel investigation into the case handled by state authorities.
Antipolo Bishop Francisco de Leon named retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, an 83-year-old canon lawyer who has criticized abuses within the Catholic Church, as lead investigator in Lagarejos' case. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.