Philippines
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Senate panel cites ‘cult’ leaders in contempt over child marriage denials

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Senate panel cites ‘cult’ leaders in contempt over child marriage denials

GRILLING. Jey Rence Quilario aka Senior Aguila, at the Sentae public hearing on the activities of Socorro Bayanihan Services, Inc., on September 28, 2023.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

At least three children testify about how they were forced to marry and engage in sexual relations with their arranged partners during a joint hearing of two Senate committees

MANILA, Philippines – Key figures of an alleged cult were cited in contempt during a joint Senate committee hearing after they repeatedly denied the practice of child marriage in their island community at Sitio Kapihan, Barangay Sering, Socorro town, Surigao del Norte.

All members of the organization Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated (SBSI), including alleged cult leader Jay Rence Quilario, SBSI vice president and former Socorro mayor Mamerto Galanida, and other group leaders Karen Sanico Jr. and Janeth Ajoc, denied that minors were forced into marriage in their community.

Their denials came after at least three children testified about how they were forced to marry and engage in sexual relations with their arranged partners during a joint hearing of the Senate committees on public order, and women, children, family relations, and gender equality, on Thursday, September 28.

Senator Risa Hontiveros moved to cite the four SBSI leaders for contempt, a move that members of the committees, presided over by Senator Ronald dela Rosa, granted.

This is a developing story, and Rappler will update as developments arise. – Rappler.com

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