Temple leader faces human trafficking raps

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014


A TEMPLE leader is facing charges of human trafficking after two young women have submitted their complaints to the Lanao del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

Two young women, Lina and Gay (not their real names), stated in their separate affidavits they were allegedly molested on several occasions by religious leader Jose Elbiña (not Jose Cadampog as earlier reported).

Elbiña, who also goes by the name “shepherd,” “master,” or “pastor,” is the leader of the Qahal Qadesh Am Foundation Temple based in Barangay Mahikay, Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur.

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According to the documents, Elbiña is facing Qualified Human Trafficking charges filed last March 24, 2014 at Lanao del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

Also charged for the same complaint was Leticia Esguerra, of Barangay Concepcion, Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte.

Additional charges for rape and illegal detention were also filed against Elbiña.

Elbiña http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2014/04/29/prosecuto... "> was involved in a controversy when the Toyota Fortuner he was driving was confiscated by the Aurora police recently on orders of Regional Prosecutor Jaime Umpa who claimed that the vehicle was his and that it was stolen from him (Umpa) two years ago.

Lina, 17, is a resident of Barangay Consolacion, Cagayan de Oro City, while Gay, 15, is from Molave, Zamboanga del Sur.

Lina recalled in her affidavit that she was brought to Aurora by her aunt, Esguerra, to attend a fiesta celebration at the Temple on May 16, 2013 where she met Elbiña.

Lina said she was on a summer vacation at her grandmother’s house in Concepcion.

The following day, Lina said Esguerra left her at the Temple and promised she’d be back after her trip in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte.

But Lina said her aunt never came back, and she and her cousins (Esguerra’s children) were not allowed to contact their grandmother.

“They did not want me to leave the temple anymore,” Lina said in her affidavit, adding that Esguerra “has offered me to the ‘shepherd’ just like she did with her children.”

Sometime in June 2013, while inside the Temple compound, Elbiña, who was called “uncle” by the children staying inside the Temple, brought Lina and another girl to an underground room and allegedly had sex with them.

“The ‘shepherd’ [Elbiña] told me that I have been saved from hell (eternal damnation) by offering my purity (my virginity) to him,” Lina said in her affidavit.

She alleged being molested countless times by the suspect since she was the newest girl in the Temple, and threatened to be killed should she attempt to escape from the compound.

Gay said she had lived inside the Temple compound since she was five years old. Her uncle brought her to Aurora from Bukidnon. She said she also went through the same ordeal like Lina and other girls who were allegedly abused by the suspect.

Like the other girls who refused to have sex with the suspect, Gay said she was also physically hurt by the accused.

“The other girls (there were around 16 of us) also suffered the same fate as I did; the boys in the temple also experienced the worst abuses while in the temple,” Gay said in her affidavit.

Lina and Gay, who became close friends, escaped on October 16, 2013 from the compound. The two rode a bus from Aurora to Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte, and proceeded to Cagayan de Oro where they stayed at the house of Lina’s aunt Gina Idulsa.

Idulsa said in her affidavit that she has been acting as Lina’s guardian ever since her mother left for Manila to work there.

Idulsa, who did not know Lina was in Aurora, said Lina failed to come back from her summer vacation, thus she called Esguerra and asked about Lina’s situation.

She was worried that Lina did not come back that time since she wanted to enrol her; Lina was supposed to be in 9th grade (third year) last year.

Idulsa said Esguerra assured her that she will fetch Lina in Aurora, but the latter never did.

Idulsa accompanied Lina and Gay the Puntod police station where they filed a police report on their situation at the hands of Elbiña. She also brought them to Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) for medical examination.

A medical report from the NMMC, dated February 2014 and signed by nurse Maria Vanessa Lawan, noted “old hymenal lacerations” on Lina’s genital.

Elbiña admitted Esguerra brought Lina to the temple during the fiesta, but refuted that Lina chose to stay in the temple because she was maltreated by her uncle.

Elbiña said Lina signed a waiver that she was seeking refuge at the temple because of the maltreatment she experienced from her uncle.

The waiver has been included in Elbiña’s counter affidavit sent to Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the police.

“No human trafficking happened because she (Lina) wanted to stay in the temple,” Elbiña told Sun*Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Tuesday morning.

Elbiña said the allegations that he raped the minors were “fabricated and untrue.”

“It’s impossible for a man to rape two women in just one night. I am the message speaker (in their service) and I speak for five hours,” he said, clarifying that the time could not fit for all the alleged activities to happen.

He claimed that a vehicular accident in 2001 caused his erectile dysfunction and his recent medical examination in 2008 still showed the same finding.

“Naa ko’y sakit maong gibiyaan ko sa akong asawa (I have an illness that’s why my wife left me),” Elbiña said.

“Wala ko’y gi-rape, wala ko’y gihilabtan na bata (I didn’t rape anyone, I didn’t molest a child). I preach the 10 commandments of God, and we are not a cult. I am a spiritual adviser. I hope they (agencies concerned on his case) read our counter affidavit,” he added.

Elbiña said that the human trafficking case filed against him was a ‘cover up’ to the case he filed on March 17 against Umpa for carjacking.

“The (Toyota Fortuner) has been with me for two years already. I bought it in a car shop in CCR Talisay car display, so it’s impossible that it was a carjacked vehicle,” he furthered.

He said that he had the clearance of the highway patrol, a registration from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), and other necessary documents.

“I would just want the money donated by the people to buy that car to be returned. I bought that car in good faith,” Elbiña said.

“I did not intend to file a case because I am a spiritual adviser. However, I would not want to have a human trafficking case used as a cover-up,” he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 14, 2014.

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