Thinking Pinoy: #NotSoHoly: CBCP vs Duterte: Sex and Filipino Catholic Priests

May 25, 2016

#NotSoHoly: CBCP vs Duterte: Sex and Filipino Catholic Priests

Presumptive president-elect Rodrigo Duterte raised quite a number of eyebrows after he castigated the Roman Catholic Church for its abuses.

Duterte said, “It’s about time na magklaro-klaro tayo.... Sinong lahat ng bishop dyan? Tumindig kayo. I will tell you the sins of the (Roman) Catholic Church beginning from the the time of the institution of the papacy... Ilang pope ang dumaan dito sa generations...”


(Feature Image (L to R) : Bishop Oscar Cruz, Mayor Duterte, and Bishop Soc Villegas)

Duterte specifically alluded to sexual deviance by the church hierarchy itself.
“..You had one episode of incest… A pope having so many children and committing incest… Alam ba ng Pilipinas ‘yan? Na ang tatay ang pope at anak niya, sila rin? Alam ba nila yan? Ikinuwento ba nila ‘yan sa taong Pilipino?,” Duterte added.
Duterte was referring to Pope John X, who had romantic affairs with Theodora, a Roman senatrix, and her daughter Marozia [Brook 2003].

The CBCP decided to simply ignore Duterte’s statements, with CBCP Vice-president and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma saying that the CBCP would rather hear about Duterte’s platform of government[Bombo].

This recent response is in stark contrast with CBCP President Socrates Villegas’ strong words against Duterte during the campaign period, where he criticized Duterte for allegedly committing extrajudicial killings and adultery.

Bishop Villegas wrote:
“Is this the leadership by example that Mayor Duterte excites in us? Is this the leadership by example that makes a public official deserving of the title “Honorable”? [CBCP].
This 180-degree turn is surprising, even for TP, who rarely gets surprised. After a bit of research, however, TP discovered that there’s one good reason behind the CBCP’s relative silence.

What is it? CBCP doesn’t want to open a big can of worms. That is, Duterte’s allegations of sexual deviance among priests appears to be true, not only for some of the popes, but also for Filipino clergy.

CBCP admits sexual misconduct of Philippine clergy

In a 2002 statement, CBCP President Archbishop Rolando Quevedo said, “We confess that cases of grave sexual misconduct by clerics and religious in the Philippines have rocked the bark of Peter. [CBCP]”

“We your bishops are now in the process of drafting thorough wide consultation with experts from among the lay people, religious men and women, a protocol that addresses the various types of sexual abuse and misconduct,” Quevedo said.

The CBCP eventually issued a document entitled “Pastoral Guidelines on Sexual Abuses and Misconduct by the Clergy”[CBCP].

In a separate interview, Quevedo admitted that about 200 of the country's 7,000 priests may have committed "sexual misconduct" – including child abuse and sexual affairs – over the past two decades [BBC].

In 2003, Apostolic Nuncio spokesman, told the Manila Times that 20 priests had been suspended in one diocese, and 14 in another, because of allegations of sexual harassment. He declined to identify the dioceses involved [CC].

In response to these scandals, Monsignor Nicanor Bautista, then a member of MTRCB (2003), suggested optional celibacy for priests.

Bautista wrote in 2003, “We value celibacy, but it is preventing competent men who could be good pastors [from] serving God's people [Episcopal].”

Now, to give the reader a better idea of the kinds of abuses that are going on in the church today, he decided to list down four (4) specific instances of sexual deviance and sexual abuse perpetuated by members of the church hierarchy:
  1. Antipolo Bishop Crisostomo Yalung’s romantic affair that produced two lovely children.
  2. Pampanga’s Fr. Jeffrey Louie Maghirang and his cam-to-cam fun with a married woman.
  3. Ifugao’s Fr. Gabriel Madangeng Jr.’s and the rape of three young and religious teenage girls.
  4. Cebu’s Fr. Apolinario "Jing" Mejorada and his “domination” of four teenage altar boys.

Now, let’s discuss each of them in detail.

1: Bishop and Mrs. Crisostomo Yalung

One interesting (and extremely scandalous case) was that of Bishop Crisostomo Yalung of the Sacred Heart Parish in Makati. The good-looking Yalung’s relationship with a pentagenarian female parishioner was an open secret in a small clique in the Church [Rappler].

This relationship turned sour when Christine Rances, a younger woman in her twenties, entered the picture [Rappler]. Yalung reportedly fathered two children with Rances, who was 23 years his junior [Philstar].

Bishop Crisostomo Yalung

The first child, a boy, was born in 2003. The second child, a girl, was born a year later [NewsFlash].

Rances said she would file for child support but she didn’t mention when.

“(Bishop Yalung) said he is not going to neglect us. He said he is now looking for a way to help us. He said he will come one day and take his children with him. He is willing to take care of us but he just wants to spend a little more time serving the Catholic Church,” Rances said in 2003 [Philstar].

But then, assuming that Yalung (or his diocese) provides child support, where would the money come from? From Sunday offerings, of course.

The two kids, who should be ages 11 and 12 by now, are currently studying in a private school in Manila. TP has the source for this but he’d rather not mention it to protect the innocent kids. This is not their fault.

The trio’s story would have made a good plot for a telenovela, but Yalung refused to comment on it when asked for his side of the story. Yalung is currently based in California [Rappler].

2: Fr. Maghirang and Cam-to-Cam Fun


A Kapampangan husband caught his wife cheating after he discovered recorded a skype a video conversation between his wife and the Fr. Jeffrey Louie Maghirang from the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga [Inq].

After the discovery, the fuming husband approached Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and showed the latter a text message, where Fr. Maghirang told the man’s wife, “Sige na babes, sleep na tayo, gagawa pa ko ng homily (Let’s sleep babes, I still have to make my homily).”



Church officials have suspended the priest, Fr. Jeffrey Louie Maghirang, but the complainant, a security manager for a chain of malls, fears that he might just be reassigned to another parish after the scandal has subsided [Rappler].

The man decided to press adultery charges against Maghirang, but the charges were dismissed. What’s interesting however, was the reason for dismissal.

While the man reportedly provided a recording of a conversation between his wife and Fr. Maghirang, where the two talked about their sexual activities, the man allegedly failed to provide evidence for actual sexual intercourse [Inq].

Ah, so okay lang pala ‘pag cybersex lang? Susmaryosep.

This is known to be the first case in the 50-year-old archdiocese that has reached the court although members of the laity have information about priests who have sired children, keep families, practice homosexuality, abuse minors, gamble habitually or mismanage finances.

Fr. Maghirang is currently “on loan” (temporarily assigned) to the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in New Zealand [RSASF]. It appears that Maghirang is still in service, officiating Roman Catholic marriages in New Zealand [Gazette].

3: Fr. Madangeng and his three young girls


Rev. Gabriel Madangeng, Jr. was accused in 2008 of raping three underage girls on separate occasions in Natonin, Mountain Province. The Diocese of Bontoc-Lagawe, which supervises the parishes in Ifugao and Mountain provinces, attempted to settle out of court. One of the victims agreed while the other two decided to press charges [GMA].
Yup, malapit lang sa Baguio.

Rape Victim A: “Crystal”, 14 years old


In 2008, fourteen-year-old girl Crystal (not her real name), filed rape and acts of lasciviousness charges against the Fr. Madangeng [GMA].

In a sworn statement, the girl said Fr. Madangeng bound her arms and legs to a bed at the lay information center of the Natonin Catholic mission. He then started abusing her despite her repeated pleas for him to stop the sexual acts. In response, the priest reportedly threatened the victim with harm and told her not to shout for help [Tempo].

She has reportedly become mentally impaired because of the incident.

Rape Victim B: “Twinkle”, 17 years old

In 2008, Seventeen-year-old “Twinkle" (not her real name) filed five counts of rape and seven counts of acts of lasciviousness against Fr. Madangeng, the second complaint to be filed against the priest [GMA].

Twinkle was sexually abused starting on the first week of her arrival to the parish.

Twinkle said, “Father Gabriel raped me many times… (He) started coming inside my room (at) night time (to) sleep with me. For one week he had been caressing my body especially my breast and vagina. He would leave cash amounting to P50 but sometimes he would leave P100 to P200 on top of the table as I don't like to accept it.”

Twinkle said she did not report the incident right away out of shame and because she may lose her scholarship grant in the process.

Aftermath

It has been almost a decade since the cases were filed, so ThinkingPinoy looked for any news articles about Fr. Madangeng’s arrest. TP cannot find anything using the keyword strings “priest rape +Madangeng +arrested” [Google]. Interestingly, there was only one and only one mention of Fr. Madangeng online after 01 January 2014. It was in a list of Catholic Priests assigned to the Bontoc Mission. Fr.Madangeng was listed as a “priest on leave.” [UCANews].

What’s disturbing, however, is the seeming lack of media interest in such a scandalous story. After the initial reports in 2008, TP was unable to find anything else relating to this rape case. Did influential organization pressure media to drop the coverage? That, we’ll never know.

A similar story also erupted and this time, it involved the extremely popular Bishop Teodoro Bacani, who had an affair with his own secretary in 2003 [Philstar].

But let’s move on to another serious case.

4: Fr. Mejorada and his four altar boys

In 2002, a 21-year-old former altar boy accused Rev. Apolinario "Jing" Mejorada of sexually abusing him and three others when the latter was still a rector of the Basilica Minore de Sto. Niño in Cebu City [Philstar]. The other four former altar boys Christian "Dong" Bejedia, Jun Duhaylungsod, Cerrone Dayo, and Michal Gatchalian [Gulf].

Three of the boys were given P 120,000 each, or a total of P 360,000, in exchange for their silence when they brought the scandal to the attention of the local church hierarchy in 2000. Bejedia, on the other hand, refused the offer.

Bejedia spilled the beans after he “felt betrayed” after seeing Fr. Mejorada still serving in the basilica in 2002 despite the 2000 incident [Inq].

The Basilica Minore de Sto. Niño in Cebu
Father Mario Mejorada, the brother of the accused, confirmed that such payments were made [Gulf].

"Father Mejorada paid us money to seek our silence. But the harm in body, mind, and soul that Father Mejorada brought to us can never be equated in monetary terms," said the victims. "Each of us went through very difficult periods in our lives from which we have not yet fully recovered."

The former altar boy sent a letter to Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, saying he would go public if the church ignores his allegations and “allow pedophile priests like Mejorada to continue to harm young people. [Inq]”

Fr. Ambrosio Galindez, another priest in the basilica, said Fr. Mejorada admitted he sexually abused the three young boys and that the latter has apologized to them. Mejorada was relieved from his Cebu duties and allegedly sent to a mission to Africa as “punishment” [Inq]. However, subsequent reports indicate that Mejorada was sent in the same year to a rehabilitation centre run by Philippine bishops in Lipa, Batangas [Gulf].
The four boys decided to file a case in May 2003, with Cebu City Associate City Prosecutor Rogelio del Prado recommending the indictment of Fr. Mejorada for acts of lasciviousness. Reviewing Prosecutor Nicolas Sellon rejected this recommendation, ruling that a demand letter by Gatchalian’s attorney shows that the former altar was just for the money [Sun.Star].

However, reports show that the boys were reportedly asked to sign a blank piece of paper in exchange for the P120,000 settlement in 2000 [Sunstar]. The case is still pending in the court of appeals ten years later in 2011 [Sun.Star]. One of the victims, Michal Gatchalian, is now a licensed attorney [BBGLaw]. As of February 2015, Fr. Jing Mejorada was reportedly serving as a priest in Laguna [BA].

ThinkingPinoy's Takeaways

While thoroughly scandalous, the first subsection involving Bishops Yalung and Bacani do not show crimes per se, so TP would rather not delve on them too much. Instead, let’s take a look at the other three, namely:

  1. Pampanga’s Fr. Jeffrey Louie Maghirang and his cam-to-cam fun with a married woman.
  2. Ifugao’s Fr. Gabriel Madangeng Jr.’s and the rape of three young and religious teenage girls.
  3. Cebu’s Fr. Apolinario "Jing" Mejorada and his “domination” of four teenage altar boys.

In the case of Fr. Maghirang, it is clear that the priest and his lover are extremely intimate, as shown by their intimate video and their text message. Since when was it okay for a priest to call another woman “Babes”? Unless “Babes” is her real name, then something is really wrong. But no, there was no adultery because there was no proof of intercourse. Susmaryosep.

In the case of Fr. Madangeng, I do not understand how a case of such magnitude was suddenly dropped by national media. Such a scandal would have made Cristy Fermin wet herself. Were they pressure by the church to leave Madangeng alone?

In the case of Mejorada, the priest himself admitted to molesting the teenage boys. While there was a settlement, does it really absolve Mejorada of his criminal liabilities? What’s worse, it appears that Mejorada is still a priest up to this day, free to molest Tagalog teenagers in Laguna instead.

There appears to be common characteristics in three cases:
  1. Despite the CBCP’s admission of the probable existence of 200 sexually deviant priests or bishops, we have yet to see a single priest sent to jail.
  2. CBCP attempts to financially settle these cases, with the full realization that the money they use to pay these rape victims comes from Sunday Mass Collections.
  3. Despite the priests’ abuses, they were still allowed to exercise their priestly duties, at the peril of unknowing churchgoers.
  4. After the initial report and a follow-up, media seems to immediately and magically lose interest in these cases.
  5. And most disturbingly, not a single priest was arrested by the police, EVER. Never mind putting them on trial or putting them behind bars. Not a single priest was ever arrested, period.
TP can still remember that time when Duterte unleashed that distasteful rape joke [TP: Rape Joke].

Four prominent Filipino Catholic bishops — Lingayen-Dagupan’s Socrates Villegas, Cebu’s Jose Palma, Caloocan’s Deogracias Iñiguez , and Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Crus — quickly blasted Duterte in public [Inq]. However, these four bishops never pinpointed even a single priest who sexually abused the laity, despite the latter’s abundance.

Then, ThinkingPinoy remembered the next article he wrote, which was about the other three presidentiables’ cozy relationship with the child rapist Romeo Jalosjos [TP: Jalosjos]. In that article, TP asked his readers to choose which the lesser evil was. That is, TP asked the reader to choose:
  • Duterte, the foul-mouthed guy who joked about rape, but risked his life to save a rape victim, or
  • One of the sweet talkers Roxas, Poe, and Binay, who coddle a child rapist.

Now, it seems that TP has to add a third option:
  • A Catholic Church in the Philippines that’s filled with pedophiles and philanderers, that protects pedophiles and philanderers.

Yes, in the CBCP vs Duterte issue, it boils down to a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Even if TP is not a practicing Catholic, He does not want the RCC to fall apart because for many Filipinos, religion is their only source of moral standards. However, the RCC should know its place. Huwag masyadong feelingera. (ThinkingPinoy)

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NEXT ARTICLE: #KungAkoSiRody: Duterte thwarted “Plan B”. Now what? 


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