NBI agents arrest suspected cult leader
Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) arrested a 45-year-old alleged cult leader in the mountain barangay of Buanoy, Balamban town, western Cebu, Wednesday morning.
Casiano “Tatay Loloy” Apduhan, who claimed to have healed several persons and brought to life dead people, was tagged as a suspect in the death of 14-year-old Angelo Repuela.
Repuela’s remains was recovered by NBI agents on a grave beneath a 30-feet hole inside Apduhan’s home. Apduhan was also accused of illegally detaining Emma Nepomuceno for over five years.
Charges of serious illegal detention, human trafficking, and murder will be filed by the NBI-7 against Apduhan before the Toledo City Prosecutors’ Office which has jurisdiction over crimes that occurred in Balamban town.
“This is a very rare case. We’re still studying the appropriate charges to be filed against the suspects. But definitely, one of the charges will be serious illegal detention,” NBI-7 agent Rey Villordon said.
The parents of Retuela and Nepomuceno, who suspected that the two victims were inside Apduhan’s home, earlier sought the assistance of the Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC) to verify their claims.
PWC then asked the NBI to conduct surveillance for two weeks before they asked for a search warrant before Judge Hermes Montero of the Regional Trial Court in Toledo City last Tuesday afternoon.
Heda Largo, Gender and Development implementing officer PWC consultant, said Nepomuceno will undergo medical and psychological examinations.
Nepomuceno refused to talk with the media. The only words she said to the PWC when she was rescued was “Kinsay nag-report (Who reported this)?”
Her mother Alicia said they thought that her daughter was working abroad for the past five years.
“The last time I saw her was in 2008. She told me that she will travel to Italy. But I was worried because she didn’t bother to call us for the past years,” Alicia told reporters.
She said her other daughter saw the victim inside Apduhan’s home, prompting them to seek aid from the PWC. “We’re shocked that she’s just here,” Alicia said.
Retuela’s parents chose to remain in Naga City, southern Cebu while waiting on the NBI operation.
The body of their son Angelo was found on a grave beneath Apduhan’s residence.
Dr. Rene Cam, NBI-7 medico-legal officer, conducted an autopsy on Angelo’s remains yesterday morning.
Cam said he looked for some signs of struggle and foul play but he didn’t found any. Angelo’s remains was brought to the funeral homes before it will be entrusted to his parents waiting in barangay Alpaco, Naga City.
“His internal organs are already decomposed. We could not get some samples. But still, we are not ruling out the possibility of foul play through other means like starvation,” he told reporters.
When interviewed by reportes, Apduhan denied having a hand on Angelo’s death.
“I really didn’t have any idea that the dead body of the boy was buried beneath my house,” he said.
Apduhan said he was later informed that Angelo died of sickness and was brought by the boy’s father Terio from their home in Naga City to his house in Toledo City. He also denied illegally detaining Nepomuceno inside his residence.
Apduhan said it was Nepomuceno who requested him not to inform her family that she’s just in Balamban. “She has a problem with her family. She asked me not to tell her family that she just here,” he said.
Apduhan said Nepomuceno was free to go everywhere. “She can go out of the house. She even goes with us anywhere we go. Last night, she was with us during the graduation of my daughter,” said Apduhan who has three children.
He also denied running a cult, saying he’s still a member of the Catholic Church.
Apduhan said he’s been healing sick people since he was three years old.
He said his grandfather Casiano Lebron passed it over to her mother Amananita who in turn taught him to heal sick people and raise the dead. Apduhan also said some politicians sought his help in the elections.
Apduhan’s group has about 30,000 members since it started several years ago.
“I could no longer remember when it started. My grandfather started it. Those who were healed just informed other people about what I’ve done so that’s why we have several members,” he said.
Apduhan said he could only heal and hold prayer meeting but his family still goes to the Catholic Church to attend Masses. He is currently detained at the NBI-7 stockade pending the filing of charges against him, while his cohort Victor Fajardo is scheduled for questioning.
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