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CEBU, Philippines – A Catholic parish church in Socorro town, Surigao del Norte, has called on concerned government agencies and organizations to rescue alleged victims of the controversial Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated (SBSI), saying many of them have surrendered everything they had when they decided to move to the community in Sitio Kapihan.
Based on the accounts of the alleged victims, the majority of followers gave up everything, including their families and career to live in SBSI’s hilltop settlement in Sitio Kapihan, Barangay Sering.
“They sold their properties for a meager sum before they went up to their new settlement. They left their professional employment, and even their families. Thus, many of these people could not easily return to their former ways of life due to the fact that they have nothing to go back to, no house, no work, and sometimes, no family. This context therefore moves us to ask for help from the different agencies and organizations who can rescue the followers from the clutches of their deceitful and abusive leaders,” read a statement of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Socorro.
In the statement, which was posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ official media arm, CBCP News, the Socorro priests noted that SBSI has one of the largest followings in the town.
The statement was signed by the Reverend Fathers Ronnel Ian Garcia, James Alibong Jr., and Christian Funtanares. Garcia is the resident priest, Alibong is the parochial vicar, and Funtanares is the parish priest of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Socorro.
They said SBSI followers may even exceed that of the Catholic population on the island, estimated at around 5,000 people.
The parish also frowned upon the organization and its belief system, which it said centers on Jay Rence Quilario, also known as Senor Agila, being the “reincarnation” of God.
The priests said SBSI has been using the image of the Santo Niño to make their indoctrination process more appealing to new followers.
The parish referred to this as “an insult to strong and solemn faith.”
Socorro Mayor Riza Rafonselle Taruc-Timcang earlier called for more troops to be stationed on the island municipality ahead of the Senate investigation into the alleged cult activities of SBSI, which is scheduled for Thursday, September 28. – Rappler.com