Firearms seized from cult compound

The Mindanao Times/September 25, 2002
By Froilan Gallardo

Marawi City -- A cache of high-powered firearms and explosives were seized inside the compound of a religious cult group in Brgy. San Antonio, Jasaan in Misamis Oriental early morning yesterday. Elements of the Army 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro, operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and the provincial police seized the firearms inside the compound of the Philippine Benevolent Christian Missionaries Association at around 6:45 a.m. yesterday, 4ID spokesperson Major Johnny Macacas said.

Seized were 16 firearms that included a Browning automatic rifle, five M16, 10 M1 Garand rifles and explosives, Macanas said.

The PBCMAs head Tomas Eugenio and his son Charlie, and eight men wearing the reservist military uniform were arrested by the raiding team. They are now facing charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

The raiding team was armed with a search warrant issued by judge Noli Catli of the Regional Trial Court Branch 25 signed on September 25.

"The raid was done peacefully, the cult members did not resist," Macanas said.

Eugenio, a former member of another cult group based in San Jose town in Surigao del Norte Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), started his organization in the 1970s.

Eugenio was said to break his alliance with PBMAs Ruben Ecleo Sr. in the 1970s over some "misunderstanding."

The Ecleo's PBMA recently hit local and international news when its current head, Ruben Ecleo Jr. was arrested over charges of murder and parricide for the death of his wife Alona Bacolod-Ecleo.

The PBMA group is also reported to arm some of its members.

According to Macanas the raid is an offshoot to the police and military campaign to seize all firearms reportedly owned by religious cult groups in the region.

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