PARISHIONERS who accused Compostela parish priest Loreto Jumao-as of sexual abuse, among others, have a problem presenting the victims because they are “afraid to come out.”
Jumao-as, on the other hand, is open to the investigation Cebu Archdiocese officials will make, as this is where he can disprove his parishioners’ allegations against him.
Jumao-as is also said to be happy with the archdiocese’s decision to investigate him again even if Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal already investigated him on the same accusations three years ago.
Parishioners of St. James the Apostle parish in Compostela said the investigation is long overdue.
Jesusa Limbaga, one of Jumao-as’ accusers, said they have prepared all their evidence long before the issue was publicized, “because we have been waiting for the cardinal to act on this since 2000.”
Parishioners and officers of the parish pastoral council accused Jumao-as of sexual abuse, immorality, and misusing church funds and parish properties.
However, the group fears they might not be able to turn over for investigation the sacristans the priest allegedly molested.
“They are afraid to come out. The victims are poor and they are afraid to bring up the allegations themselves because they are afraid of lawsuits. But one of the boys whom he (Jumao-as) proposed to have sexual activities with might talk,” Limbaga said.
Following the advice of Vidal, Jumao-as has no longer made himself available to the reporters for interviews.
He told Sun.Star he will heed the instructions of the cardinal to refrain from talking about the issue. But a source close to the priest said Jumao-as is ready to face the investigating committee anytime.
“He welcomes the second investigation and is even happy about it because he will be given a chance to clear his name. He is open to everything that may happen as a result of the accusations,” a source close to Jumao-as told Sun.Star.
The source added that the priest is also ready to face the oral defamation complaint that Limbaga plans to file in court.
Jumao-as is just waiting for the investigating committee formed by Vidal to visit his parish.
When the committee calls for them, Limbaga said they will give the cardinal a copy of the receipts showing that Jumao-as took at least P400,000 in parish funds.
Archdiocesan media liaison officer Msgr. Achilles Dakay said the cardinal will listen to both parties in the course of the investigation.
“He will call for both the priest and the accusers and he will listen to both sides. Whatever documents they have, the cardinal will review them. He always wants a dialog in cases like this but he is never confrontational,” Dakay said.
November 17, 2003
By Sun.Star Staff