Cases vs religious leader brought to DOJ

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Monday, May 26, 2014


THE head of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) in Northern Mindanao Region had requested the complaints filed by two teenage girls against a leader of a religious group be handled by the office of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima.

In an interview with Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro recently, Regional Prosecutor Jaime Umpa sent a letter to Lanao del Norte provincial prosecutor Diosdado Cabrera requesting him to forward the human trafficking and rape charges against Jose Elbiña, leader of Qahal Qadesh Am Foundation Temple based in Barangay Mahikay in Aurora town in Zamboanga del Sur, to De Lima’s office.

This paper learned that all the documents required to the cases had already been transmitted to the DOJ main office in Manila. The NPS is the prosecuting arm of the DOJ.

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Umpa wanted the complaints to be handled by the DOJ central office to erase doubts that he could be influencing the prosecution against Elbiña.

It can be recalled that Elbiña accused Umpa of taking by force the Toyota Fortuner the former was driving when it was flagged down and seized by local police in Aurora on February 11, 2014.

For his part, Umpa maintained that the vehicle belonged to him and that it was carjacked two years ago. Elbiña countered that he did not carjack the Fortuner but bought it in a used car dealer in Cebu.

Umpa said it would be best that the cases filed against Elbiña be tried elsewhere to avoid the impression that the cases might be influenced.

Gina Idulsa, guardian of the two complainants, Lina and Gay (not their real names), told this paper by phone Sunday evening that the girls have no problem if the justice secretary or any other government prosecutor will handle the cases.

“Okay ra ‘na sa amo bisa’g asa. Ang ila lang pangandoy lang nga makahupot sila og hustisya (It’s doesn’t matter where the cases will be heard; their only wish is that they (victims) be given justice),” Idulsa said.

In their affidavits submitted to Cabrera, Lina and Gay both alleged that Elbiña raped them on several occasions during their stay at the Temple between 2012 and 2013.

Both girls stated in their affidavit they were told by Elbiña to offer their purity (virginity) to him to be saved from the damnation of hell.

The complainants also said they were physically maltreated when they wouldn’t give in to Elbiña's demands, who was called by his followers as “master,” “shepherd,” and “pastor.”

In one instance, Elbiña had a gun pointed at Lina for refusing to have sex with him while telling her that she committed a sin for refusing to do so.

On separate occasions, both Lina and Gay had experienced being tied with metal chains for hours for disobeying the orders of the temple leader.

Lina, 17, is from Cagayan de Oro, while Gay, 15, is from Zamboanga del Sur.

In his defense, Elbiña, in a separate interview with a Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro reporter by phone a few weeks ago, denied he committed the allegations.

Elbiña said there is no way he could have committed rape because he is suffering from an erectile dysfunction due to a vehicular accident in 2001.

He said a medical certificate would prove that he is under that condition, adding that he has a disease which prompted his wife to leave him.

He also said that there was no human trafficking since Lina “wanted to stay in the temple.”

In response, Idulsa said that if the allegations were not true, Lina and Gay would not have bothered to complain.

“Nganong man nga nagreklamo sila (Lina and Gay) ug ngano man nga gatigum siya (Elbiña) og mga bata? (Why did they complain in the first place and why is he gathering children (inside the temple)?” Idulsa said.

Since she brought them to her residence, Idulsa said the girls have shown signs they were traumatized by the series of incidents they had experienced while inside the temple.

She said there are times Lina and Gay would keep to themselves and be quiet while staring at nothing for a long time.

Idulsa is providing for the daily needs of the girls while women’s groups like Gabriela are providing them with support.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 26, 2014.

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