Farmer was promised dead son would rise
Lawyers of detained cult leader challenge prosecution to identify skeletal remains
The father of the 14-year-old boy whose skeleton was found in the Balamban villa of faith healer Casiano “Tatay Loloy” Apduhan a year ago testified yesterday about his son’s death.
Eleuterio Repuella, a former follower, wore a bullet-proof vest over his shirt.
He said he didn’t see Apduhan kill his son and that the boy Angelo was already dead and wrapped in a bloodstained red blanket when the father was summoned to Apduhan’s house in November 2011 and told that the “spirit of the boy had departed” and would rise from the dead two years later.
The account was given in the first hearing of the cult leader’s application for bail in the Regional Trial Court in Toledo City.
Repuella said he believes the faith healer offered the boy as “padugo” or a sacrifice for a pot of gold.
Defense lawyers tried to raise doubt about the identity of the human remains found by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in an underground room of Apduhan’s house.
“Why doesn’t the state use some of its resources to prove the identity of those bones? They have the means,” he said.
Apduhan is facing charges of murder and human trafficking in relation to the death of 14-year-old Angelo and recruiting the Repuella family to work for him in the farm without pay.
RTC Judge Ruben Altubar of Branch 29 will have to decide whether evidence is strong enough to hold the faith healer in detention throughout the trial or to post bail for his temporary release.
While no one saw how the boy died, prosecutors said there was circumstantial evidence, when taken together with other pieces of evidence, form “an unbroken chain” that leads to the conclusion that Apduhan committed the crime.
Aside from the elder Repuella, Prosecutor Reynaldo Menchavez presented NBI 7 Supervising Agent Reynaldo Villordon yesterday.
Villordon testified that no DNA test or dental examinations were conducted to identify the human bones found in Apduhan’s villa.
“The remains were already in a state of decomposition. We do not have available equipment to identify it,,” he said.
“We believe the bones really belong to Angelo based on what his parents relayed to us when we exhumed his remains,” he added.
Apduhan, his driver Victor Fajardo, and his aide Zacarias Barquio were the last people seen with the boy before his death, according to the victim’s mother Remigia.
The prosecution is set to present in court, Remigia, NBI medico legal officer Rene Cam, and Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale on Feb. 18.
The cases against Apduhan stemmed from a letter of Vice Governor Magpale asking the NBI to act on two cases of missing persons, the boy and a woman.
In his testimony, Repuello said Apduhan went to their residence in the City of Naga in 2011 and convinced them that the world was about to end.
On Apduhan’s advice, they sold their livestock and other belongings and gave the proceeds to the faith healer, left their home and went to live in “Tatay Loloy’s” mountain villa in Balamban town.
The family lived in the compound of Apduhan from 2001 to 2014.
The elder Repuello, who only finished Grade 1, said he tilled the ricefield while his wife did household chores. Their son Angelo, worked as a storekeeper. The family was not paid for their services.
In a brief interview after the hearing, Apduhan denied killing the boy.
“Ang ako lang nga unta ilang ipagawas ang kamatuoran. Didto sa sabakan sa iyang inahan namatay ang bata. (I hope they will reveal the truth. The boy died at the hands of his mother),” he said.
Apduhan said the boy had already been suffering from an undiagnosed illness when he was brought to him.
He described Angelo as “skinny-thin, pale, and sickly.”
He said the boy’s parents voluntarily brought Angelo to his residence to be cured but the boy eventually succumbed to his illness.
Apduhan, whose reputation as a faith healer has earned him a loyal following in the village, remains in the Toledo City Jail following his arrest last March 26, 2014 in barangay Buanoy, Balamban town.
He is accused in another court case of illegal possesion of firearms and serious illegal detention for allegedly keeping 33-year-old Emma Nepomuceno, who was rescued by NBI agents from the house.
The woman in open court later denied she was a victim and said she willingly stayed in Apduhan’s house for five years to avoid her own family.
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