Rumors about cult cause panic

Kidapawan City, Philippines - Despite assurance from police authorities that a “demonic” cult does not exist, hundreds of residents from at least four remote villages in Makilala, North Cotabato, evacuated to safer areas for fear they might fall victims to the alleged cult members.

Residents of Barangays Rodero, Kisante, Malasila and New Bulatukan, all in Makilala, said that bonnet-wearing men are hunting down some 100 women as “offering” to their “supernatural leader.”

“We can’t sleep. We can’t go to our farms for fear these hooded men will snatch us,” Precy Dunggoc, 68, said.

Another female villager, who requested anonymity, alleged that the women would be killed after being raped by their “leader” as their sex organs would be offered to their “god” in their congregational meeting slated next month.

However, Insp. Rommel Hojilla, Makilala police chief, described such report as “baseless and unfounded.”

He said that bonnet-wearing men, whom villagers alleged as demonic cult members, are workers of a banana plantation in Makilala.

“These men work in shifts and they wear bonnet at night because it’s cold,” he explained.

In nearby Bansalan town, police head Senior Insp. Sherwin Butil also denied that there was a number of rape cases reported in his town since last December.

“I don’t know where the reports originated. A lot of media persons have asked me about that, and I’ll repeat that such report is not true,” he told radio station DXND.

Butil stressed their police logbook showed no rape case since November 2005.

However, Kisante village chairman Lutero Pampangan attested that they recorded six incidents where hooded men were monitored in his village from December 27, 2005, to January 4 this year.

“Two of these incidents were monitored in Sitio Concepcion, two in Sitio Pangayasan and two in Kalye Putol,” he emphasized.

Despite the sightings, Pampangan said no abduction has been reported in the concerned villages yet.