Priest accused of rape to face church panel

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2011 02:14 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2011 10:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Archdiocese of Butuan has created a committee that will investigate the complaint of a 17-year-old girl, who claimed she was raped by a parish priest.

Butuan City Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos said the committee will be the one to determine the recommendations, if there will be any, against parish priest Fr. Raul Cabonce.

According to “Leah” (not her real name), she was molested and raped by Cabonce inside the St. Anne Convent in Tubay, where she worked as a house help in exchange for being a scholar of the priest.

After graduating from high school, Leah ran away and took refuge from the Missionary Sisters of Mary.

She is also now in the custody of women’s group, Gabriela.

In a statement, Gabriela secretary-general Lana Linaban urged Pueblos to refrain from protecting Cabonce.

"Dalawang bagay ang kailangang gawin ni Bishop Pueblos, ang isuko si Fr. Cabonce sa mga kinauukulan para harapin ang mga kasong kriminal na isinampa laban sa kanya, at kagyat na simulan ang paglilitis kay Fr. Cabonce sa ilalim ng Church Tribunal," Linaban said.

Pueblos did not divulge the whereabouts of Cabonce. – with reports from Johnson Manabat, dzMM