Fr. Ejares Holds Mass at Palace of Justice

By Nilda Gallo
Cebu Daily News
November 20, 2007

CEBU CITY, Philippines - After lying low for over a year, Fr. Benedicto Ejares, the Catholic priest who was accused of sexual misconduct by high school girls, was seen presiding over Holy Mass at the Marcelo Fernan Hall of Justice last Thursday.

This despite an earlier announcement by the Archdiocese of Cebu the priest was prohibited from hearing confession or celebrating Mass in public.

Ejares celebrated Mass for employees of the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA) at the fourth floor of the Hall of Justice in memory of an employee who died of a heart attack last month.

An employee of the PPA said the priest had a very light demeanor, even managing to joke during the mass.

"He said at the end of the Mass, 'Tapos na ang misa, andam na ang lamisa'," said the employee, who asked not to be named.

The employees of the office were aware wh othe priest was. One male employee said he joked his female colleagues, "Kinsa tong gustong magpa-pitik-pitik sa inyong mga bra, pangompisal na mo (Those of you who want your bra straps flicked, you may now go to confession)."

In November last year, several high school students from the Abellana National High School complained that Ejares touched their arms, shoulders and back, and flicked their bra straps while hearing individual confession.

Seven of the students, with the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation, filed complaints for acts of lasciviousness against the priest.

Last Oct. 3, the Cebu City Prosecutor's Office dismissed the complaint against Ejares, saying "it would require an unreasonable overstretching of one's imagination" to conclude that the priest's gestures were lewd designs.

The students, with the help of lawyers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, filed a motion for reconsideration to reverse the dismissal.

Cebu City Prosecutor Nicholas Sellon is yet to resolve the motion.

Earlier, Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said Ejares may not hear confession or celebrate mass in public until he was cleared of charges.


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