The authorities arrested a cult leader in a raid in his house in Barangay Buanoy, Balamban on Wednesday (March 26) morning. A dead body was recovered and a 30 year-old woman, believed to be a sex slave of Casiano Apduhan, was also rescued.
A joint operation of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 and Special Weapons and Tactics of the Philippine National Police PNP 7, with the participation of the Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC) and in collaboration with the municipal government of Balamban, conducted the raid. The body was believed to be that of Angelo Repuela, a native of the city of Naga. His body was found at the tunnel within the premises of the Apduhan’s house.
Apduhan was known to be a faith healer. Angelo’s family came to the house of Apduhan to seek treatment in 2011. Buanoy Barangay Captain Clyde Seblos said the family then worked for Apduhan. Angelo’s father worked to gather charcoal in the highlands while his mother was assigned at their basement. Angelo attended to the store.
In 2012, Angelo suddenly died at the age of 12. According to Seblos,
Angelos’s parents don’t believe he died of illness. The couple were said to have witnessed their son’s burial. “Naa say storya storya nila, di ta ka siguro nu, gihalad kuno,” Seblos added. After the death of their only child, the parents fled from Apduhan’s house.
Governor Hilario P. Davide III promised that the Capitol will help those reportedly abused by the cult leader. The governor expects appropriate charges will be filed against Apduhan. “If there are minors, nga apil, we will consult our Provincial Commission on the Welfare of Children. Among ning pagahisgutan kung unsay mabuhat nato niini,” he added.
The law does not prevent the people to form and join an organization, the governor said. But he urged them to report abuses like what happened in Balamban. “Let’s be vigilant,” he stressed.
Balamban Mayor Ace Stefan Binghay was thankful for the arrest. He said Apduhan was a third generation leader of the “cult” named, Diyos Amahan. Previously, he said there were no reported problems. But lately, Binghay said, they received several complaints from the members themselves. Binghay added he also heard of other abuses made by Apduhan like sex slavery involving minors. Others were reportedly mauled and were not paid for their services. Binghay said Apduhan’s members were from different parts of the province. Some are also from Negros Oriental and even from Mindanao.
After the death of Angelo, the cult’s membership decreased, according to Seblos. He estimates that only about 100 persons remain with the cult now.