Cult members involved in Catmon shootout
The armed persons who shot it out with policemen in Catmon town, northern Cebu were believed to be members of a cult which broke away from the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association.
Handkerchiefs marked with Latin words and medallions were seized from the men who were arrested. The suspects also had body tattoos in Latin.
Police said the suspects were about to rob a bakery owner when the encounter occurred at around 8 p.m. on Wednesday in barangay Binungkalan, Catmon.
A police officer and two members on the other side were shot dead. Two other policemen were injured.
PO2 Dionelio Jurbina, 54, was set to retire in two years. He was declared dead from a gunshot wound in the head at the provincial hospital in Danao City.
SPO2 Rex Menchavez, the team leader, and PO2 Aaron Benjamin Arizo, 35, are recuperating from gunshot wounds in a Cebu City hospital.
The other two fatalities were identified as Lito Tillo Gomolon, 53, from Lawaan, Talisay City and King Siroy Porgatorio Lusifer, 41, from Argao town.
Police recovered .45 caliber pistols from the two slain men.
Police said the leader of the armed group identified as Andrew Abaigar Ocasla, 44, from Argao and a native of Bacolod City, was arrested with a hand grenade.
Tomas Manulat Bracero, 27, from Sogod town, was also arrested. Police said he served as a guide of the group and was apprehended with two packs of suspected shabu.
The shooting broke out t around 8 p.m. on Wednesday when the four policemen from Catmon responded to an armed person alarm.
SPO2 Menchavez, PO2 Arizo, PO2 Jurbina and PO3 Ben Navales went to the area to check.
They said someone in a dark area beside the street fired shots at them.
Ocasla and Bracero were about to flee when they were stopped by a second team from Catmon police station, according to Senior Insp. Roberto Hugo, chief of the Catmon Police Station.
During interrogation, Ocasla, who is called KM or Kuya Manoy as leader of the cult, denied any knowledge of the shooting.
Ocasla also disowned his two slain companions. He said he went there to fulfill his mission to treat and heal the sick.
“We suspect that this group is involved in criminal activities like gun -for- hire, carnapping, illegal drugs, and robbery/hold-up,” said Senior Supt. Noel Gillamac, chief of the Cebu Provincial Police Office.
Senio Insp. Hugo said they believe the group was about to rob bakery owner Joel Mollejon.
The businessman was able to evade the group after noticing that they wanted to get more money from him.
The group of Ocasla reportedly treated the illness of Mollejon last March. While the cult leader did not directly ask for money, he told the businesssman he would have spent P400,000 if he had been admitted in a hospital.
Mollejon reportedly gave P60,000 to Ocasla. But the group went back three times and told Mollejon that he was healed because of a mission: he must join the cult and finance the construction of the group’s chapel in Simala, Sibonga.
The shooting happened near Mollejon’s house.
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