In this file photo, children from the depressed area of Baseco in Manila carry signs calling for the end of child abuse, in a parade marking United Nations Children's Month on Oct. 17, 2008. (Photo: AFP)
The greatest loss for a human is to have little or no self-awareness and live as an unthinking and uneducated person.
Why would thousands of people believe and blindly follow a charlatan, a cult leader, or a suspected drug trafficker, leave their jobs and homes, and take their children to an enclave in the remote mountains to be enslaved and abused?
Is it because the educational standards are so low that nine-year-old school students cannot understand what they read? They apparently have nothing to read but only what they see on a mobile phone.
According to Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros, a cult with thousands of members, called Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated, or Omega de Salonera, led by a well-armed doomsday preacher, is entrenched in a well-guarded enclave in the mountains of Socorro, Surigao del Norte.
Among his followers are about 3,500 adults and 1,580 children, many of whom have been raped, violently assaulted and sexually abused by the leader Jey Rence B. Quilario and his cronies. Some of the children escaped and are now in government care but no legal or police action has been reported to rescue more children and arrest the accused based on the testimony of at least eight children.
Quilario began the cult in 2017 and brainwashed thousands of people with frightening stories about the end of the world, creating a kind of “mass hysteria.”
"Observers cannot point to poverty to be the cause behind such blind faith in a cult leader"
Government employees and teachers abandoned their jobs and took their children to his cult headquarters in the mountains and forced them to work as slaves.
The leader persuaded them to surrender their will and money and to obey him blindly as would a tyrannical wayward politician.
“This is a harrowing story of rape, sexual violence, child abuse, forced marriage perpetrated on minors by a cult. This cult is armed and dangerous,” Hontiveros said in her speech.
“According to direct and first-hand testimonies, Quilario would engage in acts of sexual abuse and violence against minors, including ordering girl children to sleep with him,” the senator alleged.
The police and military have so far not moved to rescue the children and confront Quilario.
Observers cannot point to poverty to be the cause behind such blind faith in a cult leader. The middle and upper classes of society are also a part of their own cults.
Why would young, intelligent college students mindlessly subject and surrender themselves freely to the power, control and domination of fraternity leaders, only to be bullied, insulted, humiliated, and beaten with wooden paddles? Some ended up being murdered.
The students’ lives are taken over by the fraternity and they are forbidden to quit or leave. That would be disloyalty and they would be ostracized for the rest of their lives and punished. They are falsely persuaded that membership is necessary for their future careers since fraternities are powerful organizations in society.
"Viewing child or adult pornography is seriously detrimental to mental health and emotional maturity"
Many of this generation’s minds and hearts are all the more being controlled by their fascination with, even addiction to, content on social media platforms. Many thousands are glued to their mobile phones. They believe and respond emotionally to anything they read or see there.
It is mostly junk, banal, useless content, fake news, empty comments and jokes, or even worse, grooming minors for sexual abuse. There is political recruitment and indoctrination, too, and of course streaming of child and adult sexual content.
Viewing child or adult pornography is seriously detrimental to mental health and emotional maturity. It can be an addiction and can captivate the viewers’ mind and body. It can damage the personality of the viewer, and for many, make them unable to have a mature caring loving family relationship.
It persuades the youth that sex is love and that is all they need. They get addicted to pornography and self-pleasuring and are incapable of making strong emotional bonds with a partner. The break-up of young families is very common.
While reflecting on mind control and so-called “mass hysteria” consider an event at San Jose National High School in Talibon in Bohol province in the Central Visayas region. On Sept. 15, some of the 159 students began to physically react in an unusual manner while attending Mass. The school authorities described it as “mass hysteria” while some described it as “seizures.”
It could have been a reaction by some students, followed by others, to a priest giving a very terrifying “blood and thunder” sermon, frightening young innocent students with threats of terrible punishments of burning forever in the flames of hell, which does not exist.
That kind of scary preaching is detrimental to the Gospel of love and children can be psychologically abused. However, there is no report of any such scary sermon.
So we can reasonably make the conjecture that the students ate junk-contaminated snacks outside the school before going to the church. Some, perhaps, consumed their favorite brownie cake containing marijuana. A mild overdose would perfectly explain the “seizures” although no one will admit such a possibility.
However, believing and declaring that innocent children might be possessed by evil spirits is ludicrous. Branding innocent children or anyone as being possessed by evil spirits, especially during Holy Mass, in the presence of the Lord, is another form of heresy and may be counted as psychological child abuse.
There is no proof of the existence of evil spirits. It is a phrase used in past centuries to try to explain little-understood medical conditions like epilepsy. Such unfounded allegations can damage children’s mental health and violate their moral and civil rights to good character, dignity, self-esteem, and healthy self-understanding.
Such tagging or branding of children is immoral. They will be stigmatized and carry that terrible allegation through their lives.
If there are any “evil spirits,” they are the clerical child abusers hiding behind the robes and thrones of some bishops. That is where exorcism is badly needed in the Church.
*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.