FILE—Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P. (Photo by Miah Terenz Provido)

A Quezon City court has cleared former UST secretary general Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P., of charges initiated by a devotee of the Lipa apparition, ruling that the Dominican priest “did not offend religious feelings.”

Judge Zita Marie Atienza-Fajardo of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 224 ruled on May 14 that the former UST secretary general would only be punishable if his actions were intended to “ridicule, mock, scoff at, or attempt to damage” an object of religious veneration.

“The court finds that the subject statements made by the accused and alleged in the Amended information are not notoriously offensive that are designed purely to ridicule or deliberately hurt the feelings of the faithful, or the devotees of Our Lady, Mary, Mediatrix of All grace,” Fajardo said in a nine-page ruling.

Harriet Demetriou, a former chairwoman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and former Sandiganbayan justice, filed the complaint against Cabading on Dec. 12, 2022, at the Quezon City prosecutor’s office, accusing Cabading of mocking the devotion to Our Lady, Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, in Lipa, Batangas. Prosecutors elevated the criminal case to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC).

The ruling said Cabading’s statements were made in a “mere vlog” uploaded on Facebook rather than in a place of religious worship.

Despite the court’s decision, former Commission on Elections chairwoman and Sandiganbayan justice Harriett Demetriou said she was determined to pursue the case.

According to a report by BusinessWorld, Demetriou intends to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals and, if necessary, to the Supreme Court.

“We’re going to exhaust all legal remedies provided by law,” she was quoted as saying.

Cabading was arrested on May 13, 2023, and released two days later after posting bail of P18,000.

On Jan. 19, the Makati prosecutor’s office cleared Cabading of one out of three perjury complaints, which originated from the initial criminal complaint, due to lack of evidence.


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