A FORMER Filipino priest wanted in the United States for allegedly molesting two minors in North Dakota between the years 1995 to 1998 has been arrested in Calamba, Laguna, Philippines on Sunday, November 19.
Reports say Fernando Laude Sayasaya was consequently brought to Manila for extradition to the U.S. where he is facing two counts of “gross sexual imposition” filed by brothers Hugo Zamarron and Pablo Zamarron.
Sayasaya faces accusations of engaging the then 15-year-old brothers in sexual contact, both in their home and church, during his assignment as priest at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in West Fargo, North Dakota.
The ex-Catholic priest reportedly asked for the church’s permission in December 1998 to visit the Philippines for Christmas, and said he would return to the U.S. in January 1999 which he failed to do.
“Alam niya na papalabas na ‘yung warrant of arrest [so] nagpaalam siya dun sa Amerika. Nagpaalam siya dun na magbabakasyon siya sa Pilipinas (He knew of the warrant of arrest release in America. He said that he would be going on vacation to the Philippines),” said Laguna Provincial Intelligence Branch chief, Superintendent Vic Cabatingan, according to GMA News.
According to Laguna police who said they received a tip regarding Sayasaya’s location, the former Catholic priest had been changing his name and residence for the past 15 years. His warrant of arrest was released in 2002.
“Kaya nga nagkaroon tayo ng tracking dito. Nagkaroon tayo ng validation sa address na binigay sa warrant of arrest, wala siya dun. So trinack-down natin kasi may mga kakilala siya, hanggang ma-landing natin sa Barangay Looc, Calamba City (So we did a tracking here. We got validation at the address given in the warrant of arrest, he was not there. So we tracked him down because he had a lot of acquaintances, until we landed in Barangay Looc, Calamba City),” said Cabatingan.
In 2012, the United States’ Court of Appeals (CA) First Division approved a lower court’s order for Sayasaya’s extradition in 2012. He had been charged in the District Court East Central Judicial District in Cass County, North Dakota.
“It is… in the interest of civilized communities that crimes should not go unpunished. On this score, we cannot allow our country to be a haven for fugitives, cowards, and weaklings, who, instead of facing the consequences of their actions choose to run and hide,” said the CA decision.
The Manila City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on December 28, 2010 found probable cause to grant the request of the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to extradite Sayasaya who then attempted to challenge it.
In a 23-page ruling, the CA through Associate Justice Amy Lazar-Javier denied Sayasaya’s petition of reversal and said the evidence against his alleged sexual offences “met the standard of probable cause”.
The CA decision also reiterated that the RTC found the affidavit of detective Grey Clayton Warren of the Police Department of West Fargo, North Dakota, who investigated Sayasaya’s illegal acts, as valid.
“This Court gives respect and credence to the foregoing factual findings, which are amply supported by the evidence on record,” said the appeals court. It also stated that the Philippine government “has an obligation to ensure crimes not go unpunished”.
“Suppression of crimes is the concern not only of the state where it is committed but also of any other state to which the criminal may have escaped,” it added. (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)