Mayor wants more police, military presence vs. 'Socorro cult'

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) — Socorro Mayor Riza Rafonselle Timcang wants more personnel from Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be deployed in her town pending an investigation on the alleged "cult activities" of Socorro Bayanihan Services, Inc (SBSI) in the mountains of Surigao Del Norte.

This was after hundreds of SBSI members staged a protest on Sunday where they denied allegations of sexual abuse and other human rights violations against their leader Jay Rence Quilario, also known as "Senior Agila."

Timcang said there is a "real threat and imminent danger of violence" from "agitated members" of the SBSI.

"In this regard, I call on the PNP and the AFP to deploy additional augmentation forces to this island municipality more so that the September 28, 2023 hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality is fast approaching," she said.

During a previous interview with CNN Philippines' The Source, SBSI Vice President Mamerto Galanida also refuted claims that they are sexually abusing children but admitted that they practice early marriages.

The group called on authorities to conduct a "fair" investigation in their base, a plea which Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who earlier exposed the alleged abuses, and the Department of Justice earlier rejected.

READ: DOJ, Hontiveros reject Socorro leaders' plea to hold probes in base

The rape, sexual violence, child abuse, forced marriage, and other abusive actions allegedly committed by Senior Agila were previously exposed by Hontiveros in her privilege speech on Sept. 18.

Hontiveros said over a thousand children were victimized by the religious leader who was declared as the reincarnation of the Santo Niño.

READ: 'Dire and despicable': Hontiveros says over 1,000 children victims of sexual abuse by Surigao del Norte 'cult'

The DOJ on Tuesday said 13 members of the alleged religious cult are now facing complaints for reported abuse of children.