CEBU - Dios Amahan cult leader Casiano Apduhan claimed on Thursday that Provincial Board Member Alex Binghay had asked him to serve as an “agent” by monitoring crimes in Balamban.
In a radio dyHP interview Thursday, Apduhan said he has been receiving honorarium from Binghay, a former mayor of the town, for reporting drug-related activities and other crimes to the PB member.
Apduhan said the honorarium is from Binghay’s personal money.
Binghay denied this.
He said he knows Apduhan because the cult leader’s grandparents were trusted aides of his mother, who, like him, had served as town mayor of Balamban.
When he became town mayor, Binghay said, he relied on Apduhan, a former councilor of Barangay Buanoy, to support him politically.
“Ang apuhan tinuod daghan tawo and politically, taw man imong tuyo (Apduhan’s grandparents had a lot of followers in their group and in politics, you need people to support you), ” Binghay said.
Apduhan, a barangay councilor of Buanoy, Balamban for three terms, was arrested Wednesday by law enforcers on suspicion of detaining a woman in his house in Sitio Laray 3. A search of his property allegedly yielded firearms and a discovery of a tunnel where the remains of a teenaged boy were found buried.
Binghay recalled that Apduhan entered politics in 2000 and finished three terms as barangay councilor.
“Makabuhi kuno siya og patay. Kinsa may katuohan nga tawo ana? (Apduhan said he can bring back the dead. Is this kind of person believable?)” Binghay said.
Binghay said they only see each other during official activities in the town.
Apduhan, in a radio interview, said he will not hesitate to spill the secrets of the people he thinks are behind his arrest. He mentioned politicians.
That, as Msgr. Esteban Binghay, one of the episcopal vicars of the Cebu Archdiocese, said the Archdiocese must address concerns on cults by reviving formation programs for parishioners especially those in the towns.
The monsignor is a brother of the PB member.
Monsignor Binghay said the Catholic Church has failed to address the problem on cults and why they continue to attract followers.
He said the clergy can start by reviving church formation programs and educating their parishioners on the difference between genuine faith and superstition.
Binghay said cults exist because of misguided faith. “Our faith should always be guided in the right way,” he said.
Binghay was surprised to learn that Apduhan was arrested. He said he knew the Apduhan family before he became a priest. He described Apduhan as a “simple man.”
Binghay told Sun.Star Cebu that religious cults in Cebu have drawn more followers over the years because of several factors.
He said many people approach cult leaders for healing because they cannot afford to go to private hospitals.
They also join cults because the priests in their parish often shun superstitious beliefs that are associated with faith healing.
“Wala man gud sila’y laing kadangpan (They have no one else to go to for help),” Binghay said.
He said some politicians have taken advantage of the growing membership of religious cults because the groups can deliver votes during elections.
Binghay recalled that Apduhan’s group was frequently approached by politicians in Balamban because of its large number of followers.
Meanwhile, witness who saw how a teen-aged boy was buried in a tunnel and how a woman was allegedly detained was the key to the arrest of Apduhan in a villa in Barangay Buanoy, Balamban last Wednesday.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Central Visayas and the Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC) relied on the testimony of the 19-year-old follower of Casiano Apduhan, who is called “Tatay (Father)” and Diyos Amahan (God, the Father).”
Witness John (real name withheld) said he joined in the burial of Angelo Repuela and “detected” a woman living alone in a room inside Apduhan’s house. He said Apduhan did not allow anyone to enter her room.
The woman’s family had believed that she was in Italy for a job. John said his female relatives also told him that Apduhan molested them.
Apduhan denied he used Bocabal as a sex slave and molested the female members of his group. He also denied being responsible for the death of Repuela. He said he only cured the boy of his illness.
Apduhan blamed politicians for his arrest.
“Kung inyo man kong iduot nga makasasala...puyde ko magpabitay. Pero iabli ko tanang sekreto ninyo (If you persecute me because you think I have sinned, you can hang me but I will spill your secrets),” he warned.
On Wednesday morning, operatives of the NBI 7, PWC, and the police recovered Repuela’s remains in the tunnel and rescued Bocabal, who was allegedly detained by Apduhan for more than five years.
Authorities seized guns and other evidence in Apduhan’s residence. Charges of serious illegal detention and illegal possession of firearms were filed by NBI 7 against Apduhan on Thursday, supervising agent Rey Villordon said.
Villordon said they will also file a murder complaint against Apduhan, who likened his predicament to the sufferings of Jesus Christ.
“Di man ko ninyo ipalansang sa krus, ipapusil na lang ko ninyo (You will not have me crucified. Shoot me then),” said Apduhan.
In his affidavit, John said his relatives are Apduhan’s followers. He worked in the Apduhan household since he was 10 years old.
He said he met the detained woman while working for Apduhan and both became “close.”
“While I worked in the villa of Tatay, I observed that (in) one of the rooms (on) the ground floor of the house, there seems to be somebody occupying the room,” said John.
He said Apduhan gave orders that no one should enter the room, which he later learned was occupied by Bocabal. John’s sister accidentally went inside the room last year and found the woman inside. The two had a fight that time.
“Soon it circulated around the compound that (the woman) has been inside the villa for a long time,” he said.
He also said that he knows Remegia and Eleuterio Repuela, the parents of the deceased Angelo.
John identified the Repuelas as followers of Apduhan, who they believe is the “Diyos Amahan (God, the Father).”
Eleuterio moved into the villa in 2011; his wife followed the next year.
At the time of Angelo’s death, John and Eleuterio were farming in Patong near Apduhan’s house. They were later called by Victor Fajardo upon the instruction of Apduhan. (Fajardo was invited by the NBI after the raid. He was not included in the complaints.)
John and Eleuterio went back to the villa. John later saw Eleuterio, Victor, and Zacarias Barquio arrive in Apduhan’s residence on a multicab. Angelo’s body was inside the vehicle.
“The dead boy was lifted from the multicab and brought to the underground (tunnel) upon the instruction of Tatay. The dead body was laid in a green bed sheet and wrapped (in) a brown blanket and a pillow was placed under the head,” he said.
They went down the tunnel and placed Angelo’s body inside a small hole. Afterwards, John said they covered the hole with concrete “upon the instruction of Tatay.”
“After that, Elueterio terribly cried and sobbed,” he said. the woman.
Meanwhile, the woman’s mother said in her affidavit that her daughter told her that she would leave the house to find work on the evening of November 27, 2008.
She said Apduhan and her daughter know each other.
Wherever Apduhan and his wife went, the mother said her daughter accompanied them.
In a separate interview, Buanoy Barangay Captain Clyde Seblos said he fears that members of Dios Amahan might avenge Apduhan’s arrest.
But he believes that most of the cult members are happy about the arrest, especially the women he allegedly molested.
“Mismo ang iyang miyembro dili na motuo niya (His members no longer believe him after what they saw the other day),” Seblos said.
He said the local police and barangay tanods are securing the barangay hall and other areas in Buanoy.
Seblos urged those who have been victims of the cult group to approach authorities so they can be assisted. (Sun.Star Cebu)