Press Release
September 25, 2023

Hontiveros: Socorro cult survivors deprived of proper healthcare, government cash aid

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday said that Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc., an alleged cult that abuses children, deprived proper healthcare and collected government cash aid from their community members.

The senator shared that a 33-year-old survivor, alias Vivian, told her office that when she was pregnant, she was not allowed by the cult to access prenatal services, vitamins, and other medical needs.

"Nanganak lang ako sa pinaka-gamutan namin, ang tawag 'Function Hall.' Ang walang lisensya ang nagpapanganak sa akin, na dating BHW at undergrad medical student. Ang nagpapakain sa akin ay pasyente din doon sa 'ospital,'" Vivian said.

"Noong two months old ang baby ko, nagkaroon siya ng medical emergency at nagkombulsyon dahil hindi kumpleto ang immunization. Muntik na siyang mamatay. Si Senior Agila ang nag-tuli sa kanya noong 2 months old siya. Nagka-UTI siya, so kinailangan pa siyang dalhin sa Surigao para makabili ng gamot," she added.

Another survivor, alias Elena, a 33-year-old former DepEd teacher, also confirmed that when Socorro was hit by Typhoon Odette, beneficiaries of the goverment's Social Assistance Program (SAP) were all required to surrender 40-60% of the cash aid to the cult.

"May P5,000 na SAP galing sa gobyerno. Ang ginawa nila, may mga Agila na magbabantay sa gate kung saan ka lalabas at papasok. Doon nila kami hinuhuthutan ng pera para hindi marinig ng mga bisita mula sa ibang rehiyon," Elena said.

"Napatanong tuloy ako, 'Bakit sila ganon?' Dahil kung siya talaga ay tunay na Diyos, dapat hinintay nila ang mga tao na buong pusong magbigay. Hindi yung sapilitan. Hirap na hirap ang mga tao noon dahil sa pinagdaanan nilang bagyo," she added.

Hontiveros said there are more testimonies from survivors corroborating claims that the leaders of the cult, particularly Jey Rence Quilario or Senior Agila, have taken advantage of the vulnerabilities of their community members.

"In the upcoming hearing, we will be hearing more stories from survivors who suffered at the hands of Senior Agila. Inabuso na nga ang kanilang mga bata, winatak-watak ang kanilang mga pamilya, pinagkaitan pa sila ng mga karapatan at benepisyong dapat ay sa kanila. This cult has a lot to answer for. Titiyakin nating mabigyan ng hustisya ang mga kababayan nating sinaktan at inalipusta nila," Hontiveros concluded.

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VIDEO LINK:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Sv-ZbdL-vjlz9id72Unue7c1fpZMt3Yt?usp=sharing

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