Boys trained as 'Soldiers of God' for Surigao Norte cult leader – witnesses

Manila Times, Philippines/September 28, 2023

By Bernadette E. Tamayo

Boys as young as six years old were being trained to become part of the private army of a cult leader in Surigao del Norte which he called "Soldiers of God."

Witnesses on Thursday told senators that the cult leader, identified as certain Jey Rence Quilario, alias "Senior Agila," also conducted forced child marriages.

Two Senate committees conducted a public hearing on the reported "systematic abuse, rape, forced marriage of children, trafficking, forced labor" in the context of "cult-like activities" among members of the the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) in Sitio Kapihan, Socorro, Surigao del Norte.

SBSI, with over 3,000 members, including former policemen and teachers, has reportedly maltreated children.

Upon the motion of Sen. Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros, Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa has ordered the detention of Quilario and three other cult leaders -- Karren Sanico, Rosille Sanico, and Janeth Ajoc -- at the Senate premises after they were cited in contempt for being evasive in their testimony.

One the girls who escaped the cult, identified as a certain "Jane," testified that Quilario even "authorized" husbands to "rape" her if she refused to have sex with him.

A witness invited by the Senate Committees on Public Order and Women and Children also said that Quilario had prevented about 200 children from attending school so that they would not be able to "disobey" him.

Jeng Plaza, a former SBSI private army member, said the Soldiers of God has the following levels or clusters: Agila, Agnus, Bium, Ciera, Ili, Deo, and Fetus, whose members include boys aged six to seven years old.

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