Prosecutor acquits priest, 2 others in robbery case

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Friday, December 6, 2013

THE robbery and qualified trespass to dwelling cases filed against a priest and two others were dismissed by the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office due to lack of sufficient evidence that they stole the personal belongings of a Catholic church organization coordinator.

Cleared from the accusation were Father Joselito Sarabia of the Congregation of the Mission and executive officer of Vincentian Missionaries Social Development Foundation Inc. (VMSDFI), Socorro Cambi and Charlie Ande- volunteer workers of the congregation.

Assistant City Prosecutor Fabinda Delos Santos junked the robbery case due to lack of sufficient evidence while the case of qualified trespass to dwelling was supposed to be downgraded to simple trespass to dwelling to be filed in court was also dropped due to the failure of the complainant to submit a Certification to File Action to be issued by the barangay.

The cases stemmed from the complaint of Arthur Fontanilla, a coordinator of VMSDFI from Vicente Village Barangay Bagong Silang Quezon City, who claimed that the alleged incident happened on the evening of January 4, 2010.

As reported, Fontanilla said that when he went home, he was surprised to see his things outside of his house and later learned that the respondents were the ones who took out his things.

Fontanilla found out that his gold necklace, cash and other personal belongings were missing.

He added that his witness told him that the latter saw Sarabia destroying the locked door and went inside the house then took his belongings.

In his counter-affidavit, Sarabia allowed the complainant to use for free one of the houses in a parcel of land owned by the congregation in Barangay Bagong Silang, as office and rest area whenever the latter he is in the premises performing his function as a coordinator.

However, the VMSDFI terminated the services of the complainant and asked him to vacate the premises.

But the complainant despite due notice, did not vacate the premises, which prompted to respondents to enter the house with the former's prior consent.

The two other respondents corroborated the statements of Fr. Sarabia, saying that they merely helped the priest in cleaning the subject house.

"Premised from the foregoing circumstances and the evidence adduced, the undersigned finds no probable cause to indict the respondents with the crime charged. There is no sufficient evidence to indict the respondents with the crime of robbery since the complainant failed to prove that he has a gold necklace and such other personal belongings," as stated in the resolution. (Sunnex)

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