A 55-year-old Catholic priest has been arrested in the Philippines for allegedly booking a 13-year-old girl for sex through a pimp, police and church officials said on Tuesday.
A police report said Monsignor Lagarejos was arrested on Friday as he brought the girl to a motel in Manila’s suburban city of Marikina.
Police said it was allegedly the third time that the priest solicited the services of the girl, whose mother complained to police about the pimp, prompting an entrapment operation that led to the arrest.
Police have filed human trafficking charges against Lagarejos, who remains in detention.
The Diocese of Antipolo, which has jurisdiction over Lagarejos, vowed to cooperate with authorities in the investigation.
“Even as his guilt remains to be proved and the precepts of the constitution grant him the presumption of innocence.
The Diocese said in a statement that it has taken every step to hold him answerable for the charges brought against him both before the Republic and before the Church.
The Dioecese said Lagarejos has been relieved of his pastoral assignments and barred from having contact with the public except his lawyer, other priests and church authorities.
Rtd Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who has been assigned to investigate the case against Lagarejos, said it would take about a year.
“This is considered as the gravest violation of the commandments, the abuse of minors,” he said.
“It would depend really on how fast I could gather evidence and get testimonies.’’
More than 80 per cent of the Philippines’ over 100 million population are Catholic.(dpa/NAN)