Elderly woman burned to death by kin in Misamis Oriental due to different religious beliefs

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY —- Due to different religious beliefs, an 84-year-old woman was allegedly thrown by her family members into burning woods in Barangay Baliwagan, Balingasag town in Misamis Oriental province, the town police chief said Tuesday, Aug. 30.

The Balingasag police identified the victim as Teofila Camungay, who was declared dead on arrival at the Misamis Oriental Provincial Hospital in Balingasag where she was rushed after the incident which happened on Aug. 26.

The police arrested seven of the 11 family members who were involved in the crime. The suspects included four children, five grandchildren, one live-in partner of one of the daughters of the victim and the brother of the said live-in partner.

Police Maj. Teodoro de Oro, the Balingasag police chief, said one of the arrested grandchildren, identified as Crisanto Ercilla, 22, based on their investigation, has been identified as an alleged leader of an unidentified cult group.

Crisanto, the police chief said, had been allegedly encouraging his grandmother to join his group. However, the victim had been faithful with her beliefs with Philippine Benevolent Christian Missionary (PBCM).

According to De Oro, based on their interrogation from the other arrested suspects, they claimed that Crisanto was allegedly possessed by the spirit of PBCM founder and master Tomas Eugenio Sr. and told them that their grandmother is a sinner and the reason for their difficulties in life.

“That was why they (suspects) threw the victim to the fire,” De Oro said in vernacular.

Apart from Crisanto, the other arrested suspects were Jocelyn Cabusas (daughter), 49; Nicolas Cabusas (son), 45; Reymer Carno (grandson), 30; Rochel Ercilla (granddaughter), 30, and Charlie Cabusas (grandchild), 20. All of them are residents from Sitio Palipi, Barangay Baliwagan of the same town.

Some of the arrested suspects told police that Crisanto has allegedly done something prior to the crime, specifically sprayed a certain liquid substance to them in order to be under his influence and follow his commands.

Investigators tried to get the side of Crisanto on the allegations, however, according to the police, they couldn’t get any clear statement from him as he kept talking using a language that he alone can understand.

As of this writing, De Oro said they have been continuing with their hot pursuit operation to arrest the at-large suspects. The relatives of the victim, he said, are willing to cooperate in the investigation.

The Balingasag police are set to file the parricide case against the suspects before the provincial prosecutors Tuesday, Aug. 30.

The suspects are currently detained at the custodial facility of Balingasag Municipal Police Station. However, Crisanto has been placed in a separate area after he became violent from the other individuals inside the detention cell.

Being a native from Misamis Oriental, De Oro said this is the first time they encountered the said crime and he assured the public for further investigation as to the unidentified cult group that possibly exists in the town.