Girl, mother sue priest for human trafficking in Philippines

A 13-year-old girl and her mother on Monday filed a complaint for two counts of human trafficking in the Department of Justice against a 55-year-old Catholic priest who was earlier arrested for allegedly trying to bring the minor to a motel.

Accompanied by Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta and social workers, the girl and her mother met with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to seek assistance under the Witness Protection Program.

They filed a complaint against Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos and six others for violation of Section 6 of Republic Act No. 9208, also known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, for qualified human trafficking, a nonbailable offence.

Aguirre said the case was separate from the earlier complaint filed by the police in the Marikina City Prosecutor's Office for which the priest had already posted bail of P120,000 for his provisional liberty.

According to Acosta, the priest had transacted with a pimp to have sex with the minor at least two times before his arrest on July 28.

The police said the victim's mother had tipped them off that Lagarejos would bring her daughter to a motel to have sex with her in exchange for a fee.

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