A brief history of Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated

John Sitchon

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A brief history of Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated

CIVIC GROUP. Before news of child abuses and forced marriages conducted, the Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated was a people's organization.

Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros

Before news broke out of child marriages and exploitation being conducted by leaders of the Socorro Bayanihan Services, the group was known as a civic organization

CEBU, Philippines – From forced child marriages to alleged death threats against whistleblowers, the Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated (SBSI) became the center of debate on cultism in the Philippines.

Its leader, Jey Rence Quilario, also known as Señor Agila, was placed at the top of the discussion as followers continued to preach the salvation he promised while claiming to be the reincarnated son of God.

But it was not always like this.

Diane Dantes told Rappler on Thursday, October 5, that the SBSI used to be an organization that put people first through the leadership of the Taruc family.

Rosalina Mullanida “Nena” Lasala-Taruc founded the organization with her husband, Don Albino Taruc, on December 20, 1980, which is indicated in the organization’s registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

However, some historical documents and accounts stated that the organization started way before the 1970s with a small group of natives and refugees from different islands led by Don Albino in the municipality of Socorro, Surigao del Norte.

The group’s main mission was to cultivate a community with a sense of bayanihan or tinabangay in the local dialect—a variant translation for the word is communal unity.

The organization offered various services, among which included, carpentry, agricultural services, and funeral services.

After her husband passed away, Nena took his place as leader of the organization and continued the bayanihan legacy. It was unclear when the “don” died.

Dantes described Nena or “Mama Nena” as a peacemaker and a soft-spoken leader

“Under her leadership, walay pamilya nga gipangbulag, way mga bata nga gipangkuhaan ug jatungod nga maka eskoyla (no families were separated, and children were not prevented from going to school,” Dantes said.

Throughout her career, Nena was a former barangay captain and sectoral member of the Surigao del Norte Provincial Board. 

On August 31, 2004, the organization applied and was granted a Protected Area Community-Based Resource Management Agreement (PACBRMA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to shoulder the conservation and development of 353 hectares of land in Sitio Kapihan, Barangay Sering, Socorro. 

A portion of the land later became known as the Kapihan View Park.

According to multiple testimonies from former members, the SBSI started operating much differently in 2017. Leaders started herding members into a hilltop settlement where the Kapihan View Park used to be.

By 2019, approximately 5,000 people, according to SBSI’s list of members, relocated to Sitio Kapihan, selling their properties and resigning from their jobs in the process under orders from SBSI officials.

On the morning of June 27, 2021, Nena passed away.

Sakit hunahunaon nga kalit ra syang na bedridden ug namatay (It was painful to think that she suddenly became bedridden and died),” Dantes said.

Dantes added that Nena’s only daughter, former Socorro mayor Denia Florano, “mysteriously” passed away 8 days after the founder’s death.

Quilario then succeeded the late founder as president of the SBSI, alongside Mamerto Galanida as vice president.

Years later, multiple barracks were built across Sitio Kapihan. 

Reports of checkpoints, military training, and fences being built around the settlement reached the local government and the DENR between 2019 and 2022.

On September 18, Senator Risa Hontiveros exposed numerous cases of child marriages, forced labor, sexual abuse, and other cult-like practices being conducted by SBSI’s leaders, most especially by Quilario.

As of this writing, Quilario and other leaders are detained at the Senate of the Philippines after a contempt citation due to repeated denials of their involvement in child marriages. –

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