CA Allows Extradition of Ex-Pinoy Priest to US to Face Sexual Molestation Raps
By Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.
April 3, 2012
MANILA — The Court of Appeals (CA) has allowed the extradition of a former Filipino priest to the United States who is facing a case for sexually molesting two minors from 1995 to 1998.
In a 23-page ruling, the CA's First Division, through Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, denied the petition filed by Fernando Sayasaya, formerly assigned as a priest at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in West Fargo, North Dakota and/or at St. Mary's Cathedral in Fargo, North Dakota, both in the United States, to reverse the Dec. 28, 2010-ruling of the Manila Trial Court.
The Manila RTC found probable cause to grant the petition for extradition filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the United States government.
The United States government sought Sayasaya's extradition so that he can face the two counts of gross sexual imposition filed by brothers Hugo Zamarron and Pablo Zamarron before the District Court, East Central Judicial District, Cass Country, North Dakota.
The Zamarron brothers alleged that Sayasaya engaged them in sexual contact in separate occasions at their residence and at the church.
In its decision, the CA echoed the Manila RTC's findings that the affidavit of detective Grey Clayton Warren of the Police Department of West Fargo, North Dakota, who interviewed the minor victims that described in detail the illegal acts committed by the priest were credible.
"This Court gives respect and credence to the foregoing factual findings, which are amply supported by the evidence on record," the CA said.
The CA added that the Philippine government "has an obligation to ensure that crimes would not go unpunished."
"Suppression of crimes is the concern not only of the state where it is committed but also of any other state to which the criminal may have escaped," the CA said.
"On this score, we cannot allow our country to be a haven for fugitives, cowards, and weaklings who, instead of facing the consequences of their actions, choose to run and hide," the CA said.
Sayasaya was placed on administrative leave by the Catholic Church in August 1998 following the allegations of the Zamarron brothers and was sent to the Blue Cloud abbey in South Dakota.
Sayasaya asked permission from the church in December 1998 to leave the United States to go back to his homeland in the Philippines for Christmas, saying that, he would return by January 1999.
However, since 1999, Sayasaya refused to return to the United States.
Concurring in the CA ruling are Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, Jr. and Associate Justice Sesinando Villon.