CEBU

Kapa office fire blamed on arson

TEN unidentified men robbed and torched the office of the Kapa-Community Ministry International Inc. in Barangay Poblacion, Compostela town at dawn Saturday, June 8, 2019.

The incident occurred hours after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of the controversial ministry for allegedly soliciting investments from its members.

Senior Fire Officer 1 Gina Labay of the Compostela Fire Department told Bombo Radyo Cebu that a certain Edward Dagatan called their station to report the fire.

When firefighters arrived at the scene, the flames had spread to the two buildings owned by Christopher Abad, a high-ranking Kapa official in Cebu.

Labay said the fire started on the second floor of the main building.

Firefighters later found plastic canisters, which might have contained gasoline that was used to start the fire.

The building’s tenants complained that unidentified men barged inside and took their cellular phones and the contents of their vault before they set fire to the place.

The vault contained cash, a witness reportedly told firefighters.

Depite the tenants’ claims, Labay said they couldn’t conclude yet if the fire was intentional until they finished their investigation.

Meanwhile, Compostela Police Chief Ian Macatangay told Superbalita Cebu they were investigating the alleged robbery and arson.

Macatangay said they planned to summon the 21 tenants who were in the building just before the fire.

Compostela Mayor Joel Quiño said he issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against Kapa last month after it was found to be operating without a mayor’s permit.

Quiño said he delivered the order to Kapa’s office, but no one was there to receive it.

Kapa did not close down despite the CDO, Quiño added.

He said he felt insulted that Kapa staff members removed the tarpaulin he placed outside the office as a warning against the group.

“They tore the tarpaulin down just to show that no one could stop them. In fact, they were open for business until last Friday,” the mayor said in Cebuano.

Quiño plans to file charges against Kapa officials for refusing to heed the CDO.

He is also seeking the assistance of Police Regional Office 7 Director Debold Sinas to prevent Kapa from operating in the town.

Quiño said he was also happy that the President finally issued an order against Kapa for failing to heed authority.

The President’s pronouncements, though, did not worry the group’s members.

Nestor (not his real name) said that despite the challenges their group is facing, their “blessings” (monthly return on their donations) will continue because of the support of other members and investors.

“What do they have against Kapa? Kapa only wants to help the community. There are politicians out there who continue to run and win who have done nothing to help the poor. They even steal,” Nestor said in Cebuano.

Even though their Compostela office was torched, they could still claim their “blessings” in Mindanao, he said.

Ramil Paorco and other members rushed to the scene when they learned that the Kapa office had been set on fire.

“For us who have donated in Kapa, we cannot say that we are to demand and demand. We are just being neutral in this situation, for we know that what we gave were purely donations. We just pray to God that all of this will soon be over and things will go back to normal,” the 44-year-old said.

Last April 3, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked Kapa’s Certificate of Corporate Registration, saying that soliciting investments from its members was neither essential nor necessary to carry out Kapa’s purpose as a religious corporation. Therefore, its investment-taking activities in the guise of donations constituted a “serious misrepresentation” on what it could do.

Kapa collects investments from the public in the guise of “donations” with a promise of a “30 percent return per month until forever,” SEC said.

Paorco believed robbery was the motive for the arson. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t have taken the contents of the vault,” he said in Cebuano.

Despite the setback, Paorco said he and fellow members were not worried since they have duplicate copies of their donations. (WBS)


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