By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE alleged fake priest soliciting for money in exchange for prayers for the dead visited two government offices based in Iloilo City.

Edwin Trompeta, Department of Tourism regional director, said a certain Charles Lobaton went to their office on Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City last week and introduced himself as a member of the Franciscan Missionaries in Quezon City.

Trompeta said Lobaton first called his office two months ago to invite him to view antique furniture he is selling.

“But I had no time to visit his place as I was very busy. He called our office three times to invite me. I even learned that he also went to the offices of the Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG),” Trompeta said.

The DILG is headed by Trompeta’s wife, Evelyn.

Last Friday, Lobaton appeared at the DOT office with an image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Since Trompeta was out of town, DOT employees entertained Lobaton who distributed envelopes for prayer intentions and donations.

“He even sold religious frames to the employees. He even told our employees that the DOT is very lucky because our office was the last place to be visited by the image which is bound to return to Barcelona, Spain,” he added.

On Sunday, Lobaton called the Trompetas’ residence and asked for an audience with the DOT chief even for just 15 minutes.

Lobaton finally met Trompeta and they discussed about the relief efforts and donation drive of the Franciscan Missionaries.

“Lobaton told me that their school in Pangasinan was damaged during the flood and they are asking for donations,” Trompeta said.

Trompeta said he asked for Lobaton’s address and contact number “but he kept changing the details he gave me.”

When Trompeta verified Lobaton’s identity and affiliation with the Franciscan Missionaries, he learned that the religious order was composed mostly of nuns.

“They only have a handful of priests whom they know by heart and they cannot recall any member by the name of Charles Lobaton. That’s when I became suspicious of this person,” Trompeta said.

The Franciscan Missionaries also told Trompeta that their members bear ID cards and authorization letters to conduct religious activities.

Trompeta said he referred the matter to the Archdiocese of Jaro which later released an advisory on the alleged fake priest.

‘Maybe we should be wary because we have the tendency to be respectful of persons who claim to be priests. A little caution won’t harm,” Trompeta said.

Advertisements