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Apocalyptic ‘cult’ in Philippines accused of child sex abuse | News on children’s rights

Mindanao, Philippines – An obscure religious movement, suspected of promoting an imminent end-of-the-world ideology, has been accused of sexual violence and forced marriages of its own members, including children.

The Socorro Bayanihan Services, which was originally a civic organization, morphed into a quasi-religious group that is also allegedly involved in extortion of money from its members, as well as drug trafficking in the town of Socorro , an island in Mindanao.

The organization, now known as Omega de Salonera, has at least 3,500 members, including 1,580 children. They would be sequestered in a mountainous enclave “heavily guarded” by its members, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Monday evening in a speech to the Philippine Senate.

“It is a harrowing story of rape, sexual violence, child abuse, forced marriages perpetrated on minors by a sect. This sect is armed and dangerous,” Hontiveros added, citing testimonies.

In recent weeks, at least eight children managed to escape from the mountain community and provided harrowing testimonies to authorities in the town of Socorro.

‘Forced marriage’

A 15-year-old girl using the pseudonym Chloe testified via video that the group’s leader, Jey Rence B Quilario, forced her to marry a 21-year-old man when she was 13.

Quilario is revered by the group’s members and claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus and the new savior of the world. He is also called the Messiah.

On several occasions, Quilario allegedly locked Chloe in a room with her new partner and forced her to have sex with him.

Quilario also allegedly told the husband “that he had the right to rape her” because they were married, Chloe recalled through tears.

Chloe said she begged her parents to break up her marriage, but they refused saying they had to follow the will of the Messiah.

Hontiveros said sex crimes are being perpetrated against other children and teenagers living in the Mountain community.

“According to direct and direct testimony, Quilario engaged in acts of sexual abuse and violence against minors, including ordering little girls to sleep with him,” the senator said.

” Burn in hell “

A series of earthquakes that hit Surigao del Norte province in early 2019 prompted the leader to urge his followers to join the group in the Socorro Mountains and be “saved” from the impending end of the world, the statement said of Hontiveros.

Members were then told that if they refused to leave their homes, they would end up “burning in hell.”

Following the leader’s warning, “a mass exodus” to the mountains took place, with supporters giving up their salaries.

“I have also received information that the real source of funding for this sect comes from drugs,” the senator said, adding that the real motivation of the group’s leaders is to create a “human shield” to avoid prosecution. for drug-related activities.

On Tuesday, Hontiveros’ office told Al Jazeera it had asked authorities to investigate.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Mamerto Galanida, a senior official at the group, denied the “unfair” allegations and said he was ready to face any investigation.

There are several religious groups in the Philippines that are labeled “sects” by the authorities.

In 2002, a clash between authorities and supporters of another group in the Surigao region of Mindanao turned deadly after they resisted the arrest of their leader on suspicion of massacring members of his own family.


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