Cultists burn Misamis Oriental woman, 84, alive for her 'great sins'

·Senior Editor
·2 min read
Stock image of a fire. Members of cult in Misasmis Oriental burned an elderly woman alive as part of their clan's ritual to purge her of her sins. (Photo: Getty Images)
Stock image of a fire. Members of cult in Misasmis Oriental burned an elderly woman alive as part of their clan's ritual to purge her of her sins. (Photo: Getty Images)

Public uproar has ensued in a town in eastern Misamis Oriental, after an 84-year-old woman was thrown into a fire by 11 members of her own clan, as part of a cult ritual to purge her of her “great sins”.

According to Rappler, the incident took place in the village of Baliwagan in Balingasag town, more than 50 kilometers from Cagayan de Oro City, on Sunday (August 28).

Police said that neighbors rushed to the crime scene, stopped the cultists, and took the victim Teofila Camongay to the town hospital where she subsequently died of third-degree burns.

Seven cult members have since been arrested.

The suspects belong to the Camongay, Cabusas, and Ercilla families – all members of a clan - and lived together in the small and close-knit community in Baliwagan.

They include 20-year-old cult leader Crisanto Ercilla, as well as children and grandchildren of Camongay. Police are also looking for two men and two women from the same clan, who were allegedly involved in the murder.

Investigators said it was Ercilla who ordered his followers to throw his grandmother into a fire after he beat her up for her "great sins." He and the other suspects will be charged with patricide charges on Tuesday, the same day that Camongay is to be buried.

Connection to the PBCM?

According to the police, Ercilla was a self-proclaimed spiritual guru. He claimed to be possessed by the spirit of the late Philippine Benevolent Christian Missionaries (PBCM) founder and master Tomas Eugenio Sr.

The PBCM is an offshoot of the powerful Ecleo political dynasty’s Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) in the Dinagat Islands and Surigao del Norte.

Eugenio, who claimed to be the embodiment of the Holy Spirit, died in 2004. It is unclear if Ercilla and his followers are affiliated with the PBCM which is now led by Eugenio’s son and successor Charlie, and based in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental.

The story, which was broken by Cagayan de Oro broadcaster Magnum Radio, sparked swift condemnation from religious leaders and local officials.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Jose Cabantan called the crime "unimaginable", while Tablon parish priest the Reverend Father Vic Arellano said the suspects were "influenced by an evil spirit."