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Police: No ‘sex cult,’ rape gang in Davao del Norte city

/ 11:44 AM February 18, 2015

davao-del-norte-mapTAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines – Residents of several villages in Panabo City have expressed fears over reports of unidentified men roaming in communities, knocking on houses and sexually abusing women.

But police on Tuesday belied reports about the existence of a 100-strong “sex cult” even as four suspects had been arrested in various areas of the city. Police insisted reports about prowling sex maniacs were blown out of proportion.

The apparent hysteria went high in the last two weeks, with communities organizing neighborhood watches against the supposed cult members, said Supt. Thor Valiente Cuyos, the Panabo City police chief.

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“The stories about the so-called rapists were baseless and exaggerated. As far as I can remember, our station was only able to record one rape complaint this year. That’s last month,” Cuyos told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

He said the apparent panic started when stories about the so-called “tuktok gang” or criminals who knocked on houses to rob or sexually molest female occupants, began to swirl in Panabo late in January.

“They were criminals or burglars who rob, and if opportunity arises, rape women inside homes,” said Cuyos.

Four people have been arrested in separate areas since last week as communities already on edge over the reports of rape gangs, set up night watches to guard their homes, authorities said.

The suspects so far arrested were aged 25 to 35, said Cuyos.

Among them was a man – who, according to the police, appeared to be mentally unstable – who was beaten up by citizens on Monday when he and two others attempted to barge into a house in Purok Talong in Barangay Gredu around 10 p.m., according to village councilor Joselito Ohaylan.

“Residents caught him attempting to enter a house. When its occupants shouted for help, he was beaten up and turned over to the police,” Ohaylan said by phone.

His companions were able to scamper away even as the men in the community armed with long pieces of wood pursued the would-be intruders, said Ohaylan.

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The man, who is from New Visayas village, also in Panabo, had to be rushed to the Davao Regional Hospital here for treatment of his injuries.

Aside from Gredu, residents in the coastal village of Cagangohan also reported supposed attacks by a rape gang, said Ohaylan.

Local authorities said the cult’s modus included knocking houses and raping women they could found inside. The group purportedly attacks during the night.

Its members allegedly put a metal ring on their genitals so as to injure their hapless victims.

Among the cult’s purported victims was an eight-year old girl who alleged died of injuries after having been sexually assaulted.

But Cuyos said upon verification, an eight-year old girl had indeed recently died in Panabo, but she died of an illness and not of sexual abuse.

Only one of the four apprehended suspects were linked to sexual abuse, he added.

“Most were arrested due to trespassing (on other people’s homes) or being drunk, although one was accused of acts of lasciviousness but the alleged complainant has not filed a formal complaint,” he said.

Cuyos expressed dismay over photos making the rounds in social network sites showing a bruised unidentified man in bloodied sleeveless shirt and of a male sex organ with a metal ring around it, with captions identifying the photos as that of an alleged cult member.

“The photos were a blatant violation of the victim’s rights. I’m appealing to the public to stop sharing the pictures. You could be jailed up to 12 years because of it, if the man’s family would press charges,” Cuyos added.

He said he has tapped village officials and local watchmen or tanods to conduct patrols particularly during the night, to assure residents of their safety.

Senior Supt. Samuel Gadingan, Davao del Norte police, said he has ordered Panabo police to look into the reports and carry out appropriate action.

Whether the so-called sex cult was true or not, local authorities said the panic it generated had an upside as it became a deterrent to petty crimes in communities.

“People have become more vigilant, so burglaries, theft and other petty crimes were prevented. And as residents were forming night watch teams, we have in fact scared away criminals,” said Ohaylan.

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TAGS: Burglary, Crime, fear, home invasion, Intrusion, News, Panabo City, Panabo City Police, Panic, Petty Crimes, Police, police investigation, Rape, rape gang, Regions, robbery, sex cult, Thor Valiente Cuyos
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