Cult practice? Grandma burned to death by own family in MisOr

Sep. 04, 2022

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — An 84-year-old woman was burned to death by her own family in a town in Misamis Oriental.

Authorities said Teofila Camungay, a resident of Baliwagan village in Balingasag town, was allegedly thrown into a pile of burning firewood by 11 suspects on August 26 because she was a “sinner”.

Investigators have so far arrested seven of the suspects including the victim’s four children, five of her grandchildren, a live-in partner of one of her daughters, and the brother of the said live-in partner.

In an interview with reporters, Maj. Teodoro de Oro, chief of the Balingasag municipal police station, said one of the arrested grandchild, Crisanto Ercilla, 22, is an alleged leader of an unidentified cult group based in the same town.

De Oro said Ercilla had been allegedly encouraging his grandmother to join his group but the victim had been faithful to her beliefs with another religious organization, the Philippine Benevolent Christian Missionary (PBCM).

Based on the testimonies of other suspects, Ercilla claimed he was possessed by the late Tomas Eugenio Sr., the PBCM founder. The testimonies added that Camungay was allegedly the cause of the family’s hardships prompting the 11 suspects to burn her to death.

Villamor said there was no indication that the suspects were under the influence of illegal drugs when they allegedly committed the crime.

A complaint was already filed before the provincial prosecutor’s office on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

The arrested suspects have been charged with parricide, according to Col. Gonzalo Villamor Jr., Misamis Oriental police provincial director. Parricide is defined as the killing of a parent or other near relative.

“Those charged with parricide were the victim’s immediate family members,” Villamor said during a phone interview on August 31.

Villamor said responding police officers took Camungay to the hospital, but she was pronounced dead on arrival by attending physicians. (

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