Surigao del Norte

Surigao del Norte cult forced members to vote Marcos-Sara in 2022 election

John Sitchon

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Surigao del Norte cult forced members to vote Marcos-Sara in 2022 election

VOTE. The members of the Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated (SBSI) were allegedly coerced to vote for Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte in the May 2022 election.

Rappler

A single precinct hosts 2,223 Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated (SBSI) voters, almost 13% of the town's 17,385 registered voters in the May 2022 polls

CEBU, Philippines – The leader of the Surigao del Norte-based Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated (SBSI) forced members to vote for then-candidates Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Sara Duterte, and local allies in the May 2022 election.

A source, who requested anonymity, told Rappler in an interview on Wednesday, October 4, that Jey Rence Quilario, the president of SBSI, ordered members to vote for candidates in his “line-up”. 

Lawyer Richard Dano, the legal consultant of the Socorro municipal government’s Task Force Kapihan, confirmed the claim in a message to Rappler on Friday, October 6.

Quilario’s line-up consisted of Marcos for President, Duterte for Vice president, Lyndon Barbers for Surigao del Norte governor, Noel Catre for Surigao del Norte vice governor, Felizardo Galanida for Socorro mayor, and Jessa Mascardo for vice mayor.

The source said SBSI members were allegedly threatened with punishment if they refused to follow Quilario’s order. 

Quilario also uses the name Senior Agila and rides on the claim of being the reincarnation of the Sto. Nino, or the child Jesus. His other title is “Supreme Divine Minister” of their “Nueva Jerusalem Esperanza Ministry Government.”

He is currently under Senate detention for contempt, for dodging questions during hearings into his cult’s alleged abuse of minors and women.

During the 2022 elections, SBSI still counted 5,000 members, although the group’s 2023 “census” shows only 3,560 are left.

Diane Dantes, also a former SBSI member, told Rappler that group used its members as “capital” to help the organization’s allies win elections, and that it was not the first time they practiced bloc-voting.

“Every election yan kaya mga members nila ay mga puhunan nilang mga leaders. Binibenta nila ang mga tao sa mga kandidato at sa kanila lang ang pera,” Dantes said.

(It happens every election, that’s why the leaders use the members as capital. They sell the people to the candidates and the money goes to them)

If voters would receive cash or relief goods in exchange for voting, it would go to the leaders of SBSI, she added.

A former member of SBSI, Lovely Savandal, said the group had 2,223 voters voters in 2022, or almost 13% of the town’s 17,385 registered voters.

Human capital

The source and Savandal said all members of the cult were ordered to transfer their voter’s registration to a single precinct in Barangay Sering.

Of Quilario’s line-up, only Marcos and Duterte won in Socorro. However, Barbers won the governorship.

Catre was defeated by Eddie D. Gokiangkee, Jr. in the vice governor race.

Galanida and Mascardo were part of the Uniteam campaign in Socorro, but Galanida lost to current mayor Reza Timcang. Gemma Ocon defeated Mascardo in the vice mayoralty contest.

Dano said Galanida is the nephew of Mamerto Galanida, SBSI vice president and among those detained at the Senate.

During the hearing of the joint Senate public order committee and women and children committee on Thursday, September 28, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros mentioned of SBSI’s participation in the May 2022 election.

“May at least dalawang lehitimong proseso ng gobyerno sila na sinasalihan: ang pagkuha ng ayuda, at ang pagboto sa local at national na eleksyon. Sayang nga naman ang command vote,” Hontiveros said in her opening statement.

(There are at least two legitimate government processes that they participate in: receiving aid, and voting in the local and national elections. They did not let their command vote go to waste.) – Rappler.com

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