NBI rescues missing woman, finds boy’s bones in pit of ‘Tatay’ Loloy’s home
Casiano “Tatay Loloy” Apduhan claims he heals the sick and can raise the dead – if you have faith.
The 46-year-old leader of the “Dios Amahan”, a secretive group in Balamban town, was taken into custody yesterday after agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), raided his mountain village home in barangay Buanoy, over 40 kilometers west of Cebu City.
Agents armed with two search warrants found the bones and decomposing remains of a 14-year-old boy in a deep pit excavated inside the two-story bungalow.
They also rescued 33-year-old Emma Nepomuceno, whose mother had been searching for her for five years.
The middle-aged Emma looked withdrawn, and would not speak or respond when friends approached her. She only asked rescuers: “Kinsay nag-report? (Who reported to authorities?)”
Apduhan, who insisted he was innocent, did not resist when he was handcuffed and led away.
“Andam nako atubangon ang kaso. Wala man tay mahimo. Inoncente man ko. Wala koy gibuhat nga dautan. (I’m willing to face the charges. I couldn’t do anything. I’m innocent. I have not done anything evil),” he said.
Apduhan said he acquired his healing powers from his grandfather when he was 3 years old.
The body of 14-year-old Angelo Repuela was wrapped in a blanket and placed in a niche carved in the excavated pit whose opening was sealed with concrete. The 50-foot-deep pit had a passageway, confirming neighbor’s reports of a “tunnel” in the cult leader’s house.
“This is a very rare case. We’re urging those who may have been likewise victimized by the suspect to come out into the open and file a complaint,” said NBI-7 supervising agent Rey Villordon, the team leader.
Charges of serious illegal detention, murder, illegal possession of firearms, and human trafficking, particularly on forced labor, are expected to be filed against Apduhan before the Toledo City Prosecutors’ Office today or tomorrow.
Emma’s parents had first gone to Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale seeking her help in locating their daughter, who had told her family she was leaving to work in Italy five years ago. Then Emma was spotted in the house in Buanoy.
After two weeks of surveillance operations, the NBI last Tuesday secured two search warrants from Judge Hermes Montero of the Regional Trial Court in Toledo City.
One search warrant directed law enforcers to search Apduhan’s residence in Balamban and bring the man to court “to be dealt with according to the law” for a case of serious illegal detention.
The other was for the exhumation and autopsy of the mortal remains of the boy, Angelo Repuela, and also directs law enforcers to bring Apduhan before the court.
NBI agents, with members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), barged into Apduhan’s house past 6 a.m. yesterday. They confiscated two .38 caliber revolvers, four padlocks, a doorknob, a pair of handcuffs, assorted IDs, an Ipad and at last four mobile phones.
Apduhan’s companion, Victor Fajardo, was brought to the NBI-7 office in Cebu City for further interrogation.
Apduhan was a barangay councilor of Buanoy for nine years since 1993.
He said he had helped many people with his miracles.
“Daghan na kaayo kog naayo nga masakiton. Adunay puy mga patay nga akong gipangbuhi. Basta motuo lang sila. Pag-ampo ra gyud ang akong gigamit. Walay lain. (I have healed a lot of sick people. There were also those whom I raised to life. They just need to have faith. In doing these miracles, all I used is prayer. Nothing more),” he told reporters.
An autopsy done on site by Dr. Rene Cam, NBI-7 medico-legal officer showed “no signs of struggle and foul play” in the human remains of the boy.
“His internal organs have already decomposed. We could not get samples. We examined the ribs one by one to look for clean cut fractures due to sharp-bladed instruments but we didn’t find any,” said Cam.
“But we are not ruling out the possibility of foul play because other means aside from blunt injury or other causes could have been used like starvation or punishing the victim. We still have to investigate,” he told reporters.
The boy’s remains, which include skull and bones, were brought to a funeral home and will later be turned over to his parents waiting in barangay Alpaco, Naga City.
Apduhan said it was the boy’s father, Eleuterio, who had buried the body there after his son died of an illness. A certain Crisanto delos Nievas reportedly helped him.
The pit, he said, was dug up years ago by people who were hunting for gold treasure but found none.
“Crisanto knows everything. He even told me ‘Tay, forgive us. Eleuterio and I agreed to bury the boy in your house,” Apduhan said in Cebuano.
He said the boy’s father may have thought that his son would rise from the dead if he placed the body inside the leader’s home.
Apduhan said he once healed the boy when his parents brought him there, but was unaware if the boy was complaining of something else later on what medicine his mother may have given him.
Emma Nepomuceno last told her parents she was traveling to Italy to work in 2008.
NBI 7 agents yesterday found her inside one of the rooms of the house. She declined to speak to the media and was silent most of the time.
Heddah Largo, the province’s consultant of the Provincial Women’s Council, said Emma would undergo medical and psychological examination to check for trauma and other symptoms of abuse.
“Imagine being detained for more than five years. What could have been its effect on her state of mind? We don’t even know if she’s happy or not after she was rescued. PWC’s aim is to reintegrate her back to the society. But for now, she has to undergo several interventions,” Largo told reporters.
Emma’s 62-year-old mother Alicia said the family thought her daughter was going to work in Italy.
“The last time I saw her was in 2008. But I was worried because I kept waiting for her phone calls but there was none,” Alicia told reporters in Cebuano.
Then one day, another daughter, who recently went inside Apduhan’s house to give manicure and pedicure services, saw Emma there.
“We’re shocked that she’s just here,” said Alicia.
Apduhan denied detaining the woman against her will. He said Emma presented herself and asked to stay in his household.
“Matud pa niya, duna siyay problema sa iyang pamilya. Gipalakaw niya nga mo-abroad siya Kana siya, wala ingon nga gikulong. Kuyog-kuyog man na siya namo. Gani, gabii, didto man na siya sa graduation sa akong anak sa Balamban. (She told me that she had some problems with her family.
She wanted to make it appear that she’s working abroad. We never detained her. She went with us to some occasions. For one, she was with us when we celebrated the graduation of one of my daughters last night),” Apduhan told reporters.
He said Emma helped do household chores and was treated as a member of the family.
“Mismo siya makatubag. Wala namo siya did-i gawas gawas. (She can tell you that we’re telling the truth. We never curtailed her freedom),” he added.
NOT A CULT
Apduhan, who has three children aged 26, 22 and 20, denied he was leading a personal cult.
He said he was still belonged to the Catholic Church and teaches his followers to pray the rosary and traditional prayers of the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hail Mary’.
He said his gift of healing was passed on to him at the age of 3 from his mother who in turn received it from the boy’s grandfather Casiano Lebron.
He said some politicians came to him seeking his blessing to assure they would win in the elections.
He named them as former Gov. Pablo Garcia, Rep. Gwen Garcia and Provincial Board Member Alex Binghay.
He claimed his group has about 30,000 members and that people from all over the country come to him for healing.
Apduhan said he could only heal and hold prayer meetings but his family still goes to the Catholic Church to attend Masses.
He said he was once able to raise back to life a 1-year-old boy who died of multiple burns in the body, and that the boy’s parents could vouch for this.
He said those who were healed gave him donations, including a multicab which is now kept at his residence. /With a report from Tonee Despojo
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