Cops nab tribal ‘king’ in Zamboanga del Sur
PAGADIAN CITY — The former municipal mayor of Pitogo in Zamboanga del Sur, who claims to be one of the “kings” of the cult-like group Maharlika Tribal Kingdom, was arrested by the police on Monday for allegedly threatening the life of town’s incumbent mayor, James Yecyec.
Police Capt. Mark Cabaluna, Pitogo police chief, said Zosimo Garban was arrested on Monday afternoon by virtue of a warrant issued by the Municipal Circuit Trial Court in nearby Dimataling town for illegal association and inciting to sedition.
On Tuesday, Garban was freed from detention after paying P66,000 in bail.
Cabaluna said Garban peacefully gave himself up to authorities and there was no hint of resistance, either, from the more than a hundred members of the group which, although not promoting the veneration of a faith, claims to have the liberty of exercising customary laws as recognized by the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (Ipra).
Maharlika did not identify the tribe they belonged to but said it seeks for “unity, peace and stability of the indigenous society.” The Inquirer learned that the group collects P700 membership fee, luring recruits into its fold by the promise that its authority is duly recognized by Ipra.
Garban, who is vying to be village chief of Pitogo’s Barangay Poblacion in the Oct. 30 election, used to be the town’s mayor and vice mayor.As vice mayor in February 2022, Garban sought Yecyec’s approval to travel to Manila on official business, but it was turned down by the mayor.
That incident became Garban’s basis for filing a complaint in January against Yecyec before Maharlika’s “tribal court” based in Aloran, Misamis Occidental.Garban, who claims to be the “admin king” of Maharlika, sought the issuance of an order by the group’s top leadership for Yecyec to be “kill(ed) immediately by any means.” INQ