Surigao gov seeks deeper probe on alleged ‘shabu’ lab in cult village
SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur — Surigao del Norte Gov. Lyndon Barbers on Tuesday met with members of a provincial interagency task force to further investigate the alleged shabu laboratory inside a cult-infested community in the island town of Socorro.
Barbers told Inquirer in a mobile phone interview that the probe by the police authorities could be completed in a week or longer depending on the complexity of the case.
The investigation is part of the bigger probe sought by Senators Risa Hontiveros and Ronald dela Rosa into the operation of a cult that was allegedly victimizing minors.
Barbers said the human rights violation cases against alleged cult leader Jey Rence Quilario of Socorro Bayanihan Services, Inc. (SBSI) were already filed last June.
In her Senate Resolution No. 797, Hontiveros sought the investigation of SBSI members and the allegations of systematic rape, sexual abuse, trafficking, forced labor, and forced marriage of children.
For his part, Dela Rosa separately filed Senate Resolution No. 796, calling for a probe into the cult after witnesses swore to have seen the presence of a shabu laboratory in the underground bunker within the vicinity of the “white house” in Sitio Kapihan in the village of Sering where Quilario and other leaders resided.
In several online live interviews last Tuesday, Edelito Sangco, spokesperson of Socorro Task Force Kapihan (STFK), said 22-year-old Quilario, known by SBSI members as “Senior Agila,” was already regarded as their new “messiah” and supposedly a reincarnation of Senior Sto. Niño of Cebu City.
Sangco said the National Bureau of Investigation came to their town on May 4 this year to investigate the cult’s illegal activities based on the statement of whistleblowers and filed four criminal charges on June 1 against Quilario and other SBSI leaders.
The NBI charges include qualified trafficking, kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and violation of anti-child marriage and anti-child abuse laws.
There were eight minors who sought protection from the STFK but two went back to their community after their parents secured a “writ of habeas corpus” at a local court, Sangco said.
But Mamerto Galanida, the former three-term Socorro mayor who hosted a “Boses ng Agila” radio program over 105.5 ALT FM based in Socorro, denied the allegations against Quilario and others.
“The speech of Senator Risa [Hontiveros] is the most unfair without going through due process,” said Galanida, a long-time president of SBSI who yielded his post to Quilario in 2017 and settled as vice president.
He said the senator “used parliamentary immunity when she spoke ill against us knowing that she could be charged if she spoke it in public outside the Senate.”
Galanida also lambasted the local government of Socorro for banning peddlers and visitors from entering and visiting their community in Kapihan, saying it is a violation of the right to travel.
On June 2, Socorro Mayor Riza Rafonselle Timcang issued Executive Order 54 Series of 2023, banning peddlers in all barangays of their town from entering Sitio Kapihan as pre-emptive measure against “imminent danger from civil unrest.”
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