The hunt is on in the Philippines for a Spanish priest who is accused of molesting minors and escaped his home country.

A Vatican diplomat has sought the help of Filipino bishops for information about Fr. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz who is facing sex abuse allegations.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who is also a Filipino and Pope Francis’ envoy to Spain, said the priest went missing and might have fled to the Philippines.

In Pampanga province, Archbishop Florentino Lavarias of San Fernando alerted his clergy about the wanted priest.

“There are reasons to worry on his presence in our country given the serious accusation against him of abuses of minors,” Lavarias said in a circular released May 26.

He asked his clergy to help inquire on Ruiz’s whereabouts and report to his office any pertinent information.

Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, had vowed a firm response to clergy sex abuses, adding that there would be no cover-ups.

In July 2019, the CBCP agreed to form a new office that would look into the cases of clerical abuse and augment the efforts in the diocesan level.

The country’s dioceses have also created a public, accessible and reliable system for reporting sex abuse cases involving priests.

In May last year, Pope Francis’ motu proprio “Vos estis lux mundi” mandated that each diocese and religious congregation must have a system that allows the public to submit reports of sex abuse. (RoyLagarde/CBCPnews)