Warrant of Arrest Issued V. Fr. Joey
By Jujemay G. Awit
June 30, 2006
A police team tried to arrest Fr. Jose "Joey" Belciņa last Wednesday night, but failed to locate the Danao City priest until yesterday, in a search that included the Archbishop's Palace in Cebu City.
Belciņa's lawyer, Gloria Lastimosa-Dalawampu, questioned the issuance of the arrest warrant, released a day after the Danao City Prosecutor's Office filed a child abuse charge against the priest.
Prosecutor Jose Dio-nisio Kyamko "made an irreversible error that has violated the rights of my client," Dalawampu told reporters.
She explained that she received a copy of the resolution Wednesday afternoon, but only after she filed a manifestation to be furnished the results of the preliminary investigation.
Assistant Cebu City Prosecutors Fernando Gubalane, Edgardo Monte-negro and Lineth Lapinid have resolved to dismiss the three rape complaints originally filed against the priest by an 18-year-old woman.
The complainant alleged that Belciņa, who was helping pay for her education, raped her three times from July 2005 to January 2006.
But the investigating panel only found enough basis to believe that Belciņa had consensual sex with the woman at least once,
when she was only 17—thus, the child abuse charge.
The resolution was released last June 22. But Dalawampu said she only received a copy last Wednesday, and only after she asked for it.
Still, she believes the priest should have 10 days, starting yesterday, to file a motion for reconsideration, instead of having to deal with an arrest warrant right away.
Four operatives of the Danao City Police Station tried to serve the arrest warrant at the Spiritual and Pastoral Formation Year (SPFY) House inside the Archbishop's Palace grounds Wednesday night, where Belciņa was known to be staying.
Monsignor Achilles Dakay, liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu, confirmed the policemen's visit but said he did not face them.
"I am not his (Fr. Belciņa's) custodian," he told Sun.Star Cebu.
He also does not know the priest's whereabouts.
Dalawampu, however, assailed reports that Belciņa could be hiding.
"Wala man siya mitago; wala lang nila makit-an. (He is not hiding; he just hasn't been found.) They also asked me for his whereabouts, but why ask me? Suwayi ang langit (Have they searched the heavens?)," said Dalawampu.
When reporters asked Dalawampu if Belciņa is ready with the P200,000 bail stated in the charge sheet, she said, "Bail? Why? You serve the warrant first."
Officials of the Cebu Archdiocese have said they will not be giving any financial support to Belciņa, considering that what he faces is a "personal" issue.
"But we are behind him and we will support him and encourage him to face the music," Dakay said. He clarified that the church is not sheltering the priest.
As for claims the case has been railroaded, Dakay begged off from commenting.
Dalawampu, though, had a lot to say.
"It underscores his (the prosecutor's) bias and partiality... We had the correct move to take out the case from Danao because my client will not be given due process," she saod.
Dalawampu previously filed a motion for inhibition against Kyamko before Regional State Prosecutor Antonio Arellano, after hearing reports that Kyamko would definitely file the case in court, even before the preliminary investigation was held.
Dalawampu has also questioned Kyamko's denial of motions for postponement and for an enumeration of the "vague points" to be discussed in a clarificatory hearing. Kyamko called the motions "dilatory" and "frivolous," respectively.
Arellano, however, granted the motion and the preliminary investigation was transferred to Cebu, with Gubalane heading the panel of investigators.
Dalawampu is preparing to file her motion for partial reconsideration today, addressed to Arellano and not Kyamko. She insists there was no basis to charge the priest with child abuse.
According to the charge sheet, Belciņa, "with deliberate intent, and with lewd design, did have carnal knowledge with the (complainant), a minor of 17 years of age, enticing the latter to indulge in sexual intercourse with him by giving her money, a promise to facilitate the defrayment of the expenses of her college studies."
Dalawampu pointed out, however, that the complainant's affidavit said otherwise, claiming she was "forced, threatened and intimidated" into having sex. The defense believes there is no proof supporting the theory that both parties had consensual sex. (JGA)
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