|Elmer Jr. and Father Reynolds at Camp John Hay|
Priests can get a bad reputation. In older times they were accused of grabbing lands, hoarding the donations to their churches and then spending it all on worldly pleasures. These days, priests are more often accused of pedophilia, and it is rampant enough to be a cover-all accusation whenever a priest tries to serve a specific group of children. This is currently the case with Father Daniel S. Reynolds, a rabbi serving in Baguio City, Philippines. A long-serving member of the community, Father Reynolds is currently being accused of pedophilia in the case of a child named Elmer Jr.
Elmer Jr. was, and still currently is, being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by his actual family. The two of them met when Elmer confessed to Father Reynolds about how he was being abused at home, and so the kind father tried to help the boy, by distributing rosaries with him. Whenever Elmer tried to talk to his mother about his problems at home, he only got laughed at. However, Elmer’s mother, Alicia Paayas Balad, found out that the boy was spending time with the priest. She signed a document allowing Elmer to spend time with the priest, and so he was taken by the priest.
In the company of Father Reynolds, Elmer was able to get his basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter, as well as medical treatment for the abuses that Elmer received from his family. Father Reynolds also brought Elmer to places like Camp John Hay in Baguio as well as places further away like Manila. Father Reynolds also gave Elmer lessons in English and Hebrew as well as gifts like an Igorot costume. Eventually, Mrs. Balad even gave written consent for Elmer to study abroad as long as Father Reynolds would be the one spending for it.
However, recently Mrs. Balad managed to isolate Elmer from the priest and disallowed him from receiving any help, medical or otherwise, from Father Reynolds. She accuses him of giving drugs to the child, as well as trying to separate Elmer from his family, friends, and culture. She is doing this with the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), who requested that Father Reynolds pay for a psychiatric evaluation.
To add insult to injury towards Father Reynolds’s good intentions, the DSWD is slandering Father Reynolds, using the common accusation of pedophilia towards his actions. His duties that he has been performing for his life for the spiritual and material benefit of the community are now being distorted to present a false image with him as a molester. There is no evidence of Father Reynolds doing anything wrong towards anyone, and now he is being forced through entrapment to stop even the simplest, most harmless activities, such as distributing rosaries to the community and playing the gong for crowds. He is even being told to stop performing priestly duties like lecturing and holding sessions for people as well as helping people who need it.
The DSWD has also been shutting down Father Reynolds’s parish down since April 12 – a day before Holy Week. Currently, they are also agitated towards Father Reynolds’s defense since he is able to present his side of the story to the community.
And now it is up to you. Please don’t just read this. Take a side. Read the DSWD’s statements on the matter if you must, and then read more about Father Reynolds’s defense. The Philippines can still improve one small case at a time. Take a stand; share this article with your friends. Be informed on how the government agencies work. Let righteousness win the day.