‘Worse than expected’: Senate inspection of Sitio Kapihan reveals irregularities
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs inspected Sitio Kapihan in Surigao del Norte and found the situation to be worse than expected.
According to Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the committee visited the enclave of the controversial and alleged cult Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) on Saturday.
“Mas malala pa sa aming inaasahan ang nakitang mga iregularidad ng aking staff at ng Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs sa inspection ng Sitio Kapihan ngayong araw,” the senator said in a statement.
(The irregularities that my staff and the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs discovered during the inspection in Sitio Kapihan today are worse than what we are expecting.)
Hontiveros said the Department of Social Welfare and Development has recorded at least 22 child marriages in the community, with some of them bearing children. She pointed out that an investigation must be conducted into the situations of the children born from these child marriages.
SBSI also does not have an organized record of death in their community, Hontiveros noted. There were no accounts of how the residents died and where they were buried — a clear violation of Presidential Decree No. 856, or the Code on Sanitation, according to the senator.
The lack of death records makes it difficult for the relatives to locate the graves of their deceased loved ones. On her Facebook page, Hontiveros shared photos where they were able to find the body of a child reburied in a different place without his or her parents’ knowledge.
The senator also said that because of the absence of basic official documents among the residents in the community, there is a possibility that fraud or identity theft occurs when it comes to accessing government benefits.
Hontiveros stressed that Jay Rence “Senyor Agila” Quilario, the leader of SBSI, as well as its administration, must explain these irregularities to the Senate.
In September, alleged child abuse and other illegal practices within SBSI reached the Senate. Since then, it has been probing the case.