Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ex-Priest Accuses Bodyguard Of Extortion

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 23 Nov)– The National Bureau of Investigation arrested a government soldier early Thursday for allegedly extorting money from a former Catholic priest he was protecting in the southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga.
Crisanto dela Cruz sought the help of the NBI after Ramil Luna, a member of the Philippine Air Force, allegedly tried to extort P2.5 million from him in exchange for a purported sex video between them.
The one-minute video, which showed two men having oral sex, was reportedly taken with a cell phone inside a hotel room this month.
Dela Cruz denied he was the man in the video clip. "It was not me who was in the video. With the advent of technology, nothing is impossible. I am at peace with my conscience. This is the handiwork of my political opponents," Dela Cruz told reporters without elaborating.
Dela Cruz, a staunch supporter of President Gloria Arroyo, resigned last month as a parish priest to run for mayor in next year's election against the incumbent Celso Lobregat, a political opposition leader.
Luna's family denied the soldier was extorting money from Dela Cruz. Aside from Luna, a church worker, Roel Ocampo was also held by the NBI for questioning. Both were arrested in an entrapment inside a church compound in the village of Guiwan.
Local politicians allied with Lobregat questioned the manner Luna was arrested and said they would ask the NBI headquarters in Manila to investigate the incident.
Dela Cruz is one of the most influential and respected religious leaders in Zamboanga, but broke his ties with similarly influential Lobregat, a long time family friend, to join politics, saying, he has more plans for the city under the Arroyo administration. (Mindanao Examiner)

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