Ilonggo priest surrenders to NBI
By FLORENCE F. HIBIONADA /
December 11, 2012
ILOILO CITY – Ilonggo Catholic priest, Reverend Father Lowe Dongor who is subject of
manhunt by United States (US) authorities have surrendered.
Officially tagged as US
“Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fugitive,” Father Dongor
voluntarily gave up to the National Bureau of Investigation Western
Visayas Regional Office 6 (NBI WEVRO 6).
This, following months of
negotiations as the bureau got official FBI request for assistance
middle of this year to locate Dongor.
A native of Barotac Nuevo,
Iloilo, Father Dongor fled the US in October 2011 after entering a
“not guilty” plea on charges of possession of child pornography. He
has since visited his hometown and likewise fled thereafter when the
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a warning
on his “not in good standing” status with the Church. Local media then
got wind of his presence and tried to reach him however the
beleaguered priest managed to flee anew.
“The National Bureau of
Investigation - Western Visayas Regional Office (NBI-WEVRO) confirms
the voluntary surrender and repatriation to the United States (US) of
the person of Reverend Fr. Lowe B. Dongor,” the NBI WEVRO 6 in an
official press statement said. “The 36 year-old native of Barotac
Nuevo, Iloilo, Philippines stands accused in the US District Court of
the District of Massachusetts of Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution
(UFAP). Fr. Dongor was the subject of an Arrest Warrant requested by
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for 1 count of UFAP, a
felony act. His UFAP charge came after he fled the US in October 2011
amidst charges of possession of child pornography. He was the
Associate Pastor of St. Joseph Parish of the Diocese of Worcester in
Massachusetts and asked to go on administrative leave when charged and
arraigned of the said charge.”
“We are officially
confirming the surrender of Fr. Dongor and turn-over to US authorities
through our counterparts in the US Embassy in Manila. In close
coordination with Embassy officials, we have effected Fr. Dongor’s
return to the US. It was one successful operation, which was made
possible through the support of concerned and civic minded
individuals, who worked with the NBI WEVRO team headed by Agent Arnold
Diaz, the agent on case who was entrusted to lead the negotiation
process. Fr. Dongor is now in custody of American authorities where he
will have his due day in a US Court. We thank Fr. Dongor and his
family for cooperating, trusting the bureau and the justice system,”
NBI WEVRO Regional Director Elfren Meneses Jr. said.
Agent Diaz as lead agent
personally escorted Father Dongor and left last night for the US. The
duo is expected to be met by joint US Homeland Security Investigation
(HSI), the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) team upon
It was not immediately clear
when Father Dongor will be made to appear in Court.
Philippine News Service (PNS)
in an independent investigation learned that Dongor stands accused
before Judge Robert Collings, US Magistrate Judge of the John Joseph
Moakley US Courthouse in the District of Massachusetts.
Docketed as 12-mj-1065-RBC,
the FBI filed the UFAP felony charge in February 23, 2012 with the
offense a “Category II.”
The FBI was called in by the
Office of the Worcester District Attorney following Father Dongor’s
failure to appear in an October 2011 Court hearing. Dongor has since
fled the US and went into hiding here in the Philippines.
The UFAP charge carries a
$5,000 bail and/or 5 year imprisonment.
In a PNS interview, Father
Dongor expressed readiness on whatever outcome awaits him in the US.
Such, as he admitted having “no resources at all….poor as a rat,” thus
not able to secure for himself a private counsel.
“I have to, and ready to pay
for the terrible mistakes I committed to my God, my Church, my
community, my family and myself,” he said. “I wish I can change things
and go back to my priesthood for that is what I have been dreaming of
since I was 6 years old. But all of that is gone now. I have nothing
to offer, no money even to hire a lawyer for my defense but I still
have my faith in God and that is more than enough for me now.”