DOJ offers witness protection for minors rescued from sex cult
Eight children, who escaped an alleged sex cult in Socorro town, Surigao del Norte, will be brought to the Department of Justice (DOJ) next week and placed under a witness protection program, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Friday.
The children managed to escape from Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc., a religious community believed to be exercising disturbing practices of child rape, sexual abuse, forced labor and marriages to children as young as 12.
The National Bureau of Investigation has started investigating the activities of the alleged cult and has filed a complaint with the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors since June. The cases are still pending.
“By next week, there will be a panel of prosecutors who will weigh the statements and complaints given that will initiate a criminal investigation,” Remulla said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who exposed the cult, said Bayanihan started out as a people’s group until it turned into a cult in 2017. Based in the heavily guarded Sitio Kapihan, Barangay Sering, on a mountain in Socorro town, the cult leader, Jey Rence Quilario, also known as “Senior Aguila,” claims to be the new messiah.
In February 2019, when a strong earthquake shook Surigao del Norte, Hontiveros said Quilario told his followers and residents to join them in Sitio Kapihan or they will go to hell once a certain “catastrophic event” which Quilaro predicted happened.
According to the DOJ, the NBI-Caraga has filed charges against Quilario and three other leaders of Bayanihan for qualified trafficking, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, violation of the child marriage law and violation of the child abuse law. INQ