6 to testify v. 'cult' leaders

Sun Star, Philippines/March 28, 2008

After having two full meals and getting enough rest, six members of the Pagtulun-an sa Dios Amahan have agreed to cooperate with police and serve as witnesses in the complaint against the alleged cult leaders.

Leader Jessica Sayson and house owner Leonora Robusta are facing complaints for serious illegal detention and child abuse.

Carmen Police Station Chief Carlos Reyes said that on Wednesday, spouses Marnel and Jose Dioscoro Velez, Marilene and Nestor Golez, and siblings Angelo and Marites Pasaje executed affidavits claiming that Jessica and Robusta barred them from leaving the house in Sitio Bito in Barangay Baring, Carmen town since Maundy Thursday.

Reyes added that the witnesses seem to have changed overnight.

The six told police that they got very hungry because they were made to fast while inside the hut, which served as their church.

Even the children were made to fast, Reyes said.

He revealed that when they served barbecue and rice to the group last Tuesday night, the food was consumed in an instant.

They were also served breakfast with milk the following day so they could regain their strength.


As for Jessica and Robusta, Reyes said they still continued with their preaching in Carmen. "Bali gihapon ug utok. Naa gihapon," Reyes said.

Edilberto Sayson, Jessica's husband, is still hopeful that his family will be able to overcome this ordeal.

While Reyes said that Jessica still seemed to be in the same mood she was in last Tuesday, Edilberto said Jessica told him she still wanted to go home and take care of their children so they could go to school.

Edilberto also said that his two sons had warmed up to him and started calling him Papa.

When he asked them to return home last Monday night, they reportedly refused to acknowledge him as their father.

But on Wednesday, they treated him with respect when he paid them a visit to bring them clothes.

Edilberto thought they were bent on leaving him and brought all their belongings to them. However, they told him that they did not need all those clothes and asked him to bring the clothes back home.


"Ila na kong gisangpit ug Papa ug nikalma na sila, naa na sila'y pamatasan (They now call me Papa. They are now calm and have started to show respect for me)," Edilberto said, adding that this gave him hope that their family will overcome the trauma of Tuesday's incident.

He also discussed with his siblings his plan to have Jessica undergo psychological treatment, saying she was very different from the Jessica he knew.

He added that even his neighbors in Mandaue City were shocked when they saw footage of Jessica because she was known as a meek woman who could not harm anyone.

Most of the children and their parents have returned home while Jessica and Robusta's children remained at the Carmen Crisis Center.

Reyes said they also reported for work and began going back to their normal routine.

Edilberto hopes that the members would no longer return to the Dios Amahan group. He also blamed Robusta for influencing Jessica.

He explained that Leonora, whose late husband Billy founded the group, believed her husband's spirit would return and only left because he had a "mission."

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