His followers then looked up to him as "the sugo (messenger) who could bring them and the entire world to salvation."
That was until an August 2006 police raid on his house in Marikina City rescued about a dozen children from sexual predation.
After a five-year trial, two Marikina courts on Tuesday found cult leader Antonio Dumala Faelnar guilty of raping at least three minors, whose parents he lured using the word of God.
Faelnar, now in his 60s, was earlier convicted of kidnapping and illegal detention in August 2007. He is currently serving a 40-year prison term for this case.
Tuesday's verdicts handed down by judges Lorna F. Catris-Chua Cheng and Geraldine Fiel-Macaraig of Marikina RTC Branch 168 and 192, respectively, cited him for 12 counts of rape, carrying a penalty of reclusion perpetua, a prison term of up to 40 years, per count.
Cheng decided on two incidents of rape involving one complainant, while Macaraig handled 10 incidents involving two more complainants, who were all minors when they were abused.
Faelnar then styled himself as the founder of a religious group called Global Empire Covenant and Divine Government, whose activities were held in his house in Marikina Heights.
According to Macaraig's decision, two of the complainants were siblings and natives of Mindanao who were among the 40 cult members living with Faelnar at that time.
"(One) victim was crying incessantly while narrating her painful experience on the witness stand. The court found her credible and trustworthy," the judge said in her 19-page decision.
The girl's parents were lured to the cult after they were convinced by their relatives that Faelnar was "the sugo who could bring them and the entire world to salvation," the court noted.
The victim's parents became so devoted to Faelnar's purported ministry that they eventually sold their properties in Kidapawan and brought their entire family to Manila in May 2003.
Once in Manila, the mother began working as a cook and cleaner for Faelnar while her husband also ran errands for him.
In her turn to testify, the victim's mother recalled that Faelnar also tried to rape her. This was after he told her that "all women are for God."
After his arrest in 2006, Faelnar denied the charges and claimed that he was in fact doing an act of mercy by sheltering children who had no place to stay in Manila.
He eventually admitted his guilt after the pretrial conference, but a full trial was still conducted to determine the extent of his culpability.