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'Evil spirit' caused seizures in Filipino students, says exorcist

Authorities say pupils at San Jose High School were victims of 'mass hysteria, no proof of 'demonic possession'
Students in the Philippines take part in a nationwide earthquake drill at an elementary school in the capital Manila on June 8. After students of a high school in Talibon in Bohol province in the Central Visayas region had seizures recently, some parents admitted to taking their children to faith healers to cure illness

Students in the Philippines take part in a nationwide earthquake drill at an elementary school in the capital Manila on June 8. After students of a high school in Talibon in Bohol province in the Central Visayas region had seizures recently, some parents admitted to taking their children to faith healers to cure illness. (Photo: AFP)

Published: September 19, 2023 11:32 AM GMT
Updated: September 20, 2023 05:42 AM GMT

A leading Filipino exorcist priest claimed the seizures suffered by 195 school students last week were possibly caused by ‘evil spirits,’ dismissing the findings of civic authorities who called it "mass hysteria."

It is possible that the students at San Jose National High School in Talibon in Bohol province in the Central Visayas region were possessed by evil spirits because of their exposure to occult practices, Father Jose Francisco C. Syquia said in an online press conference on Sept. 17.

The director of Manila Archdiocese’s Office for Exorcism made the remarks two days after the incident.

The students experienced seizures while participating in a Mass on the school campus on Sept. 15, forcing the management to suspend classes, media reports say.

Talibon municipal health official Narlou Wenceslao maintained that the students did not experience “authentic” possession but were victims of “mass hysteria.”

“There was no possession. They [children] experienced mass hysteria. All of them are now in stable condition. There was no proof of any demonic possession,” Wenceslao told UCA News.

Most of the students stayed in the school, which was proof that the students did not experience a “serious” condition, Wenceslao noted.

“This could be explained by science and medicine,” she said.

But Father Syquia said the students were psyched due to faith healers, who made them vulnerable to demonic attacks.

“There are many of these kids who have abandoned their allegiance to God because of occult practices such as going to faith healers that opened their ‘third eye’,” he said.

“…all that they need, maybe, a child throws a stone at a tree that is infested with evil spirits, and they will easily be possessed,” the exorcist priest claimed.

The parents said they were surprised to see their children having seizures since many of them did not display any medical condition before leaving for school.

“Our daughter never had a seizure in her entire life. She left the house after breakfast in perfect shape for their campus Mass. We go to the church, so I can’t believe this is demonic possession,” Kristel Angeles, 32, a Talibon resident and parent, told UCA News.

Angeles, a Catholic, said she was shocked to see her daughter, Kiara, falling unconscious and being carried by four people.

“There was someone praying the Rosary while the rest of the students were having seizures. All that I could do was to recite Hail Mary and embrace my daughter,” she added.

Kiara said something “overpowered” her body.

“I lost consciousness. I felt hot. I felt like I had a very high fever. I did not know what happened next. The next thing that I could hear were prayers being uttered by people surrounding me,” Kiara told UCA News.

Angeles, however, admitted that she had taken her daughter several times to a faith healer in their community because of poverty.

“Every time they [children] are sick, I don’t normally go to the hospital. I would consult a faith healer first. Going to a hospital is outside our family budget,” she told UCA News.

Bishop Daniel Patrick Parcon of Talibon said the diocese will wait for the case to be investigated by exorcists to find out the possibility of possession.

“We still need to look into the authenticity of the phenomenon. We cannot easily conclude that what happened was mass hysteria or there was no possession. We need to examine the facts,” Bishop Parcon told UCA News.

The Catholic-majority nation has reported such “evil possessions” in recent times.

In March, nearly 13 students in Barili, Cebu, were declared “possessed” by evil spirits in the middle of the class.

In 2018, some grade seven students in Dalaquete claimed that they could see “supernatural activities” in their vicinity.

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