‘Socorro cult’ members who break rules forced to swim in ‘aroma beach’
MANILA, Philippines — Members who disobey the rules inside Sitio Kapihan – sort of an enclave where the alleged Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) cult inhabit– are forced to swim in “aroma beach” as a punishment.
Aroma beach, however, is far from pristine, according to Senator Risa Hontiveros, because it is a man-made pit full of people’s urine and feces.
At the opening of the Senate investigation of the SBSI, Hontiveros revealed more details about the Surigao del Norte-based organization that managed to recruit 3,650, including 1,587 minors.
“Sabi po ng liderato ng SBSI sa mga interviews, parang normal subdivision lang daw ang [Sitio] Kapihan. Ewan ko lang, pero sa subdivision namin, ‘di nila nire-require ang iisang gupit para sa mga babae, ‘di po inilibing sa ilalim ng lupa ang mga cellphone ng mga dalaga at binata,” the senator said.
(The SBSI leadership said in interviews that [Sitio] Kapihan is just like a normal subdivision. I don’t know, but in our subdivision, they don’t require the same haircut for girls, they don’t bury the cellphones of girls and boys underground.)
“Sabi din po ng aming nakapanayam, ang mga ‘di sumunod daw sa rules, kinukulong sa tinatawag na fox hole, pina-paddle, o pinapa-swimming sa tinatawag nilang aroma beach na isang hinukay na area na puno ng dumi at ihi ng tao,” she added.
(Our interviewee also said that those who don’t follow the rules are locked in what is called a fox hole, paddled, or made to swim in what they call aroma beach, which is a dug area full of human feces and urine.)
Later into the hearing, 15-year-old “Jane” testified and confirmed that SBSI members who disregard rules are subjected to strict punishments.
Jane did not mention about aroma beach but she said that rule breakers are jailed in the fox hole – a guarded small house in the middle of the forest – and are made to spin the roulette to determine the kind of punishment they would get, which include being hit with a paddle, among others.
Hontiveros initially bared the activities of the SBSI last September 18, raising the plight of young members who were allegedly subjected to sexual violence and coerced to marry adults.
In a privilege speech, she identified the leader of the alleged cult as Jey Rence Quilario, who is also known as Senior Agila.
She eventually rallied her colleagues to conduct a probe into the activities of the SBSI in order to save the children. Senator Ronald dela Rosa also filed a separate resolution calling for an investigation.
On Wednesday, Hontiveros made it clear that the Senate investigation of SBSI has no intention to evict the organization from Sitio Kapihan.
“What we want is for the guilty to be held accountable. And when the culprit is held accountable, your children will be protected, they will be able to go back to school, and you will receive full assistance from the government,” the senator stressed.