Priest arrested in Negros Occidental for allegedly raping choir girl
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — A Catholic priest is facing charges for allegedly raping a 17-year-old choir girl in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, in 2022.
Fr. Conrado Ursua Mantac, 62, did not resist when arrested by the police at Camelot Subdivision in Barangay Estefania on Monday night, said Lt. Col. Roberto Indiape Jr., chief of the Sagay City Police Office.
According to Indiape, the priest, a native of Looc, Romblon, was arrested on an arrest warrant issued March 17 by Executive Judge Reginald Fuentebella of the Regional Trial Court Branch 73 in Sagay City. No bail was recommended.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos on Tuesday said Mantac was assigned in Sagay when the alleged crime happened, and that he was preventively suspended when the Diocese of San Carlos received the complaint in December 2022.
The priest has also been relieved of his pastoral duties in the diocese as the Church will also conduct its own canonical process on the matter.
“(The news) pains me and the whole Diocese of San Carlos. In our diocese, we have been consistent in our teachings and advocacy against any form of sexual abuse of children, women and vulnerable persons,” the prelate said in a statement. “Such crimes committed by any person, especially priests or religious, cannot be tolerated. This is a grave crime which contradicts the office of the priesthood.”
Alminaza assured authorities of the diocese’s cooperation in the legal proceedings for the truth to come out and justice to be served.
Call for prayers
“Together with the whole diocese, we commit to provide the needed information openly and honestly to the public without reservations,” he stressed.
Alminaza also assured the alleged rape victim and her family of support and protection, adding: “I deeply feel the suffering of the victim and her family and entrust her to the rightful agency which can provide proper care and assistance,” he said.
Alminaza appealed to the public “to keep their judgments as we await the proper disposition by the court.”
“We recognize (the priest’s) right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and thus support him in his efforts to establish his innocence in court,” the bishop said.
“As the father of our priests in our diocese, I take confidence in the word of Father Mantac that he will face the allegations filed against him,” Alminaza added. “We also recognize his right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and thus support him in his efforts to establish his innocence in court.”
He also called for prayers for the authorities, lawyers, guardians and all other parties involved, including himself, to perform their obligations in an “honest and truthful manner.”
“I implore you to pray for Father Mantac and the alleged victim as well as to show them care. May we be able to balance our zeal in the pursuit of justice and truth with caution, decency, and respect,” he said.
—WITH A REPORT FROM DONA PAZZIBUGAN
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