A controversial Filipino priest who was linked to the illegal trade of ivory in 2012 and who was accused of child abuse in the United States in the 1980s died in Manila.
Monsignor Cristobal Garcia, founder of the Society of the Angel of Peace, died on Sunday, May 9, according to media reports, quoting Monsignor Joseph Tan, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
“He joined our Creator last Sunday at 12:30 p.m. while he was in Manila,” Monsignor Tan was quoted by Cebu Daily News.
Monsignor Garcia was reportedly the founder of the Society of the Angel of Peace, a monastic society founded in 1992.
He was also former chairman of the Commission on Worship of the archdiocese and and spiritual director of Bukas Loob ng Dios and the World Apostolate of Fatima.
In 2014, the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation cleared Monsignor Garcia of involvement in the illegal trade of ivory, saying it found “no sufficient evidence” to link the priest to the illegal trade.
In its October 2012 issue, National Geographic magazine linked the priest, who is also facing child abuse charges in the United States, to the illegal ivory trade.
The National Geographic article quoted Monsignor Garcia explaining how ivory can be smuggled out of the Philippines.
“Wrap it in old, stinky underwear and pour ketchup on it,” the National Geographic article quoted the priest.
Philippine investigators, however, said they found insufficient evidence to pin down the priest, who has reportedly been hiding in Manila.
Authorities found some 5,000 religious icons in the priest’s residence in Cebu, but authorities said only three “appeared to be made of ivory.”
Garcia was a Dominican priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in the 1980s when he was accused of child abuse.
In 2012, he was suspended and stripped of his positions in the Archdiocese of Cebu following the sex abuse allegations.