ILOILO CITY, Philippines—A Filipino Catholic priest wanted in the United States for theft and possession of child pornography has surrendered to Philippine authorities after more than a year as a fugitive.
“I am so sorry. I want to apologize to all the people… for the damage I have done to you all, to the Church and to myself,” Fr. Lowe Dongor said in an interview in Iloilo.
A native of Barotac Nuevo town in Iloilo, Dongor was flown to the US Monday evening, more than a month after he surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Western Visayas office on Nov. 2.
Dongor, 36, was accompanied by NBI investigating agent Arnold Diaz and will be turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to face various charges including unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Dongor agreed to the interview on condition that the news report would be released after he had left the country.
The priest admitted taking around $250 from St. Joseph’s Parish of the diocese of Worcester in Massachusetts where he was assigned as associate pastor. He also admitted visiting online pornographic sites with pictures of minors but has denied downloading them in his laptop computer.
“I am ready to go to jail if that will be the consequence of my actions. I leave myself to God now,” he said.
Dongor became a US fugitive after he fled to the Philippines on Oct. 1, 2011, leaving through the JFK airport in New York City. He was arraigned on Sept. 12, 2011, at the Fitchburg District Court on possession of child pornography and larceny of more than $250.
In a letter sent to Catholic Bishops of the Conference of the Philippines on Oct. 13, 2011, Worcester Bishop Robert McManus said Dongor was stripped of his positions and was disallowed from wearing clerical attire and functioning as a priest.
McManus said in his letter that their actions were based on the position of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith that the “acquisition, possession and distribution of child pornography is a canonical delict (offense) that pertains to the sexual abuse of a minor.”