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Cebu News

No Bucas Grande?

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The planned title defense of the Omega de Salonera of Sitio Kapihan in Bucas Grande, Surigao del Norte in the upcoming Sinulog 2024 now hangs in the balance, following the allegations against their leaders.

The city's PIO reported that Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is now weighing things out if he would still allow the group to join next year's Sinulog Festival.

The group was an instant hit to the Cebuanos with their creativity, discipline and, most importantly, their showcase of the “bayanihan” spirit just to pay homage to Sto. Niño de Cebu during the Sinulog festival 2023 last January.

The squad eventually dominated last year’s Sinulog – Free Interpretation category.

Their victory in the event also paved the way for them to be selected as one of the country’s representatives in this year’s Powerful Daegu Festival in Korea last May.

While the contingent was praised by many, some have also raised doubts about their personalities since all the group members were sporting a seemingly military haircut.

Members’ denial

The FREEMAN had asked some of their members during the Sinulog concerning the rumors, but all those that had been randomly asked denied speculations that they are members of another cult.

Last September 18, 2023, Senator Risa Hontiveros delivered a privilege speech concerning the group, not just as the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women and Children and being a long-standing advocate for children, but also as a mother.

Hontiveros said a community of children in Socorro, Surigao del Norte is crying for help that led to the Senate investigation of the Socorro Bayanihan Services, Inc. (SBSI), which organized the contingent, and its leader Jey Rence “Senior Agila” Quilario.

A Senate panel has cited in contempt the figurehead of the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) and three of its members for refusing to own up to the allegations from four witnesses that they ordered child marriages in their island community at Sitio Kapihan in Socorro town.

This allegation was repeatedly denied by SBSI leader Jey Rence Quilario and members Mamerto Galanida, Janeth Ajoc and Karren Sanico during the hearing last September 28.

Galanida, who was a three-term Socorro Mayor, said there is “pre-marital engagement” among children in the group but either him nor Quilario, Ajoc and Sanico admitted any child marriages.

Their leader Senior Agila has also been accused of authorizing child rape and sexual abuse as well as depriving children to go to school, forced labor, among others.

Rama said that they may no longer allow the group to join the Sinulog if the allegations at the Senate hearing are proven true.

Rama said the city will let the Senate proceed with its investigation and wait for its findings and recommendations.

“If the ending would be coming out not favorable to the group, which I think is leading to that direction, we will look at declaring them not anymore worthy to be a part of the Sinulog, because Sinulog is venerating Sto. Niño. But we cannot also be popish than the pope,” Rama said. — (FREEMAN)

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