Girl’s ma to remove priest’s video on one condition

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Thursday, July 10, 2014


CEBU CITY -- To put an end to the issue, the mother of the 17-year-old girl whom a priest berated is willing to take down the video that she had posted on her Facebook account.

Carlota (real name withheld) said that while she has already forgiven Fr. Christopher Romeo “Oming” Obach of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (C.Ss.R), she promised to him to delete the video only on one condition: that Obach must visit her family at home and personally talk to Kaye (not her real name).

“I haven’t thought of taking it down yet. But even then, the video has gone viral already,” said Carlota.

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The video was posted on Carlota’s Facebook page last Sunday night; as of 11 p.m. Wednesday, 43,636 users have shared the video.

Explain

Both Kaye and Carlota said they have forgiven Obach, 59. But Kaye likes to meet with him in person because she wants him to explain what he did to her.

“I want to hear him sincerely apologize to me. His words very hurtful but because of what he did, I became too numb to even cry,” she said.

Carlota said she encouraged Kaye to forgive Obach, saying he is only human who is prone to commit mistakes. Wednesday morning, a second letter of apology, this time handwritten in Bisaya by Obach, was given to Carlota through a catechist-friend.

Priest's letter
CEBU. Fr. Christopher Romeo Obach, in this handwritten letter to Kaye, says he’s willing to meet with the 17-year-old single mother he berated during the baptism of her son to apologize in person. (Sun.Star photo/Justin K. Vestil)

“Allow me to express my big regrets for the pain I caused first on you and to those who witnessed the incident. I never hoped to say those words before all of you. I am remorseful and I beg for your forgiveness for what I did last July 6, 2014 at the Sacred Heart Chapel. I hope the wounds in our hearts will heal quickly from this unexpected incident. Once again, please forgive me. I am ready to see you at a time and place that you prefer, so I can personally ask for apology,” Obach wrote.

The handwritten letter came a day after Carlota met with Obach last Tuesday, the same day the priest issued his first letter of apology. The meeting took place at the C.Ss.R’s seminary building within the Redemptorist Compound on Queen’s Road, Cebu City.

Sincerity

Carlota said she was accompanied by her friends; Kaye stayed in their home.

“I wanted to find out for myself if he is indeed sorry for what he did,” said Carlota, who initiated the meeting.

Carlota said she and Obach had an emotional conversation in the presence of the C.Ss.R’s superior.

“He asked forgiveness from me and from Kaye, even if she wasn’t around,” said Carlota.

Obach also told Carlota that he would like to apologize in front of Kaye, her family, and the sponsors present during the baptism. Obach then hugged Carlota tight for about five minutes; they both cried.

She told him, “Father, I can forgive you because I am not angry with you. I am just hurt and ashamed for my daughter.”

“As a Christian, I can accept his apology. The rest, I leave it up to God,” said Carlota.

Fr. Alfonso Suico Jr., C.Ss.R media liaison, said they’re not concerned about how to stop the video from spreading, but on how to put closure to the issue.

Peace of mind

“The most important part is the peace of mind of the family and Fr. Obach,” he said in a phone interview. “We understand that once it is uploaded online, it will have a life of its own even if the (owner) deletes the video. Once it is out, it will go on.”

Commission of the Human Rights (CHR) Central Visayas investigators Primo Cadampog and Lilybeth Llona visited Carlota and Kaye at home in Sitio Lourdes, Barangay Jagobiao, Mandaue City on Thursday.

They told Carlota that CHR will lend support if she decides to sue Obach.

Carlota told them they won’t make any legal move against the priest, but they plan to sue Kaye’s former boyfriend, 21.

Llona said they can charge Kaye’s ex-lover with violations of the anti-child abuse law and anti-violence against women and their children law to compel him to support his child.

Moving on

Four days after the incident, Carlota and Kaye are starting to move on.

Carlota said she will enroll Kaye this second semester to continue her Education course. She also thanked social workers who consoled them and promised to give them food assistance.

For Kaye, she said she is recovering from the humiliation she got from the priest.

“I am okay. I can laugh about it now,” she said.

Kaye said she entertains herself by reading books and surfing the Internet. She said she draws strength from her parents, classmates and her son, whom she considers her bundle of joy.

As for Obach, Suico said his fellow priest is having difficulty sleeping. The C.Ss.R advised Obach to undergo medical checkup because the incident has affected his health.

“Generally, he is sad and depressed,” said Suico. “But he is trying to cope with what happened.” (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 10, 2014.

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