‘Socorro cult’ leader, 3 others held in contempt during Senate probe
MANILA, Philippines — The leader of the controversial Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) and three of its members were cited in contempt for evading questions during a joint Senate panel investigation on Thursday.
Alleged cult boss Jey Rence “Senior Agila” Quilario and members Mamerto Galanida, Janeth Ajoc, and Karren Sanico drew the ire of lawmakers for parrying inquiries about child marriages supposedly happening within SBSI.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who exposed SBSI’s purported illegal activities last week, moved to cite the four individuals in contempt. Senator Ronald dela Rosa seconded this.
Both Hontiveros, chair of the Senate committee on women and children, and dela Rosa, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, filed separate resolutions that sought an investigation of SBSI. Their panels jointly carried out this probe.
“Ang isa sa pinakatanong ng imbestigasyong ito ay may child mariage ba sa Kapihan? Kasi meron tayong ‘di kukulang sa apat na witnesses na naga-attest dito sa child marriage sa Kapihan. Kasama na ang isang actual party sa marriage – si alias Jane. Meron din tayong official document kung saan saan ang minor – 15 doon sa form – ay indicated na married ang civil status,” Hontiveros pointed out.
(One of the most important questions of this investigation is whether there is child marriage in Kapihan? Because we have no less than four witnesses who attest here to the child marriage in Kapihan. An actual party to the marriage is included – alias Jane. We also have an official document where the minor – 15 on the form – is indicated as married in civil status.)
“Patuloy pa ba kayong magde-deny na may child marriages na nangyayari sa SBSI (Will you continue to deny that child marriages are happening in SBSI)?” she asked the group leader and members present in the hearing.
Quilario and the other SBSI members said none. Galanida even argued that if indeed there were child marriages in their organization, parents of the minors should have lodged complaints.
Fifteen-year-old Jane (not her real name) testified that she went through it last year with an 18-year-old man she never met. She was 14 years old when Quilario allegedly paired her with the man.
Jane said they were told that marrying and sleeping with an adult is a law in Sitio Kapihan – an enclave where the alleged cult members inhabit – “to be able to go to heaven.”
But Quilario denied all allegations of child abuse, claiming: “I cannot do that.”