By Deedee M. Siytangco
Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.St. Mother Teresa
Now I promised to bring to you, avid readers of our column, the inside story of what is, with hope, the finale on the case of Fr. Pio C. Aclon and his unjust suspension from saying mass in public. To refresh your mind, it was because of his ardent advocacy in promoting the authenticity of the apparitions in Lipa with visionary Teresing Castillo.
Justice Harriet Demetriu, co-devotee of the Mediatrix and a close friend of Teresing, told us that she and Bishop Crispin Varquez discussed with some canon lawyers the case of Fr. Pio Aclon. Varquez is from the Diocese of Borongan where Fr. Pio is from.
“The office of governance of the Diocese of Borongan and execution of laws are within the capacity of Bishop Varquez as local ordinary. The suspension/restriction/interdiction applied to the said priest, however, is irregular and illicit. These are forms of disciplinary measures only applied to the accused who are proven guilty, with proofs clear beyond reasonable doubt, says Justice Harriet.
She goes on, “In Fr. Pio’s case, it is not so. Allegations or accusations collected by Fr. Jocis Syquia against Fr. Aclon, for that matter, if still in the process of probing, do not warrant suspension/restriction/interdiction. What Bishop Varquez did to Fr. Aclon is not the right course of action, thus it is an abuse of power, imprudence, to conspire with Fr. Syquia, and neglect. The action of the bishop is null and void. Therefore, as a validly ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church, Fr. Aclon can celebrate the sacraments, specifically, celebrate mass in public.”
The partial complaint of Fr. Jocis filed against Fr. Pio listed so many “characteristics” of Fr. Pio—as if he was a repository of crimes, noted Justice Harriet who was the brave judge who sentenced rapist-murderer of student Eileen Sarmenta, then Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez. To prove each one of the accusations against Aclon to be true beyond reasonable doubt would have been a long and grueling process.
“And yet, this was personally handed to Fr. Pio by his bishop as an “excerpt” of a complaint filed by Fr. Jocis Syquia, after Fr. Pio had already been sanctioned for one to two months (since May 25, 2017). Fr. Pio was never shown the full complaint (It makes one wonder what else could have been in the ‘full’ complaint). The fact that this excerpt bears the letterhead of the Diocese of Borongan means it’s an official document, endorsed by his bishop—that his Bishop, his spiritual father, was well aware of its contents. Lamentably, Fr. Pio’s bishop was the first to condemn him by imposing severe sanctions on him. By then, Fr. Pio’s ‘fate’ seemed to have been sealed. There was no way he could fight back on his own. Many of us, his friends, only hoped, prayed, and did whatever we could to help,” recalls Justice Harriet.
Pleas to hear his side were ignored. Bishop Tobias, the judicial vicar, said he didn’t know Fr. Pio but he requested for testimonies to attest to his good character. He said that if he got enough testimonies, he would drop Fr. Pio’s case.
Bishop Tobias’s office six long brown envelopes containing 200 testimonies from individuals, families, and communities whose lives Fr. Pio had touched. Bishop Tobias must not have been prepared for this. Instead of dropping Fr. Pio’s case as promised, he said he would “elevate” the case to the Vatican (which we doubt he did),” Harriet said.
If Bishop Tobias dropped Fr. Pio’s case, he would have had to go after Fr. Pio’s accusers. That he couldn’t do, for whatever reason. It became even clearer that Fr. Pio’s case was not being decided based on facts and merit, and that there were some “untouchables” in this case. But Harriet and Fr. Pio’s growing community of Mediatrix defenders who truly believed in the Mediatrix apparitions and the visionary Teresing Castillo, persisted. Dr. Mon Alava and his wife Hilda are two of the most faithful followers of the Mediatrix.
“But we praise and thank God and Mama Mary for stepping in and sending the right people to help Fr. Pio… and now, finally, sending Canon law authorities to notice the horrendous way he was manipulated by the “powers” that be. “Finally,” Justice Harriet exclaimed, “the annihilation job on Fr. Pio is on the road to being exposed. Let’s continue praying for justice to be served. May God bless us all.”
The author herself had heard Fr. Syquia’s talk on Teresing Castillo being diabolically possessed and the Mediatrix of Lipa being “demoniacal.” Oddly enough, this priest had never met nor interviewed Teresing when she was still alive! I knew her as a simple person, shy, modest in words and behavior, and very compassionate. She loved the late healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez who would go to her home in Parañaque to bless her and to pray together.
The premature judgment of Fr. Syquia caused many to lose their devotion to the Mediatrix and without any trial he filed a case against Fr. Pio. The bishop protector of Fr. Pio immediately suspended his priestly functions in May 2017 without a proper trial. Teresing died in 2016.
Justice Harriet, as Fr. Alcon’s pro bono lawyer, is now confident that the baseless case against the priest will lead to the finding of the truth and has filed criminal charges against the persons who behind them.