The police have arrested two members of an alleged cultist group believed responsible for the mysterious death of a 6-year-old boy whose mutilated body was found floating in a river in Toboso, Negros Occidental.
Senior Inspector Romeo Leyte, Toboso police chief, yesterday identified the suspects arrested during the weekend in Brgys. Tabun-ak and General Luna in Toboso, as Gerald Prado, 40, of Cabuyao, Laguna, and Roberto Engganay,50.
The body of Jessie Tabotabo, 6, who had been reported missing on June 12, was found the next day in Sitio Curba Hagnaya, Brgy. Tabun-ak, Toboso.
The two nipples of Tabotabo, his sex organ two ears, upper and lower lips had been sliced off, and cuts were also noted in his brow, police investigations showed.
Leyte said the Jimmy Tabo-tabo, 11, an elder brother of the victim and a lone witness to the incident, positively identified Prado during a police line-up as the one who dragged and drowned his brother at the Curva Hagnaya River.
Prado, who claimed to be a resident of Cabuyao, Laguna, was arrested by town residents at Crossing Ma-aswa, Brgy. General Luna on Saturday, while Engganay was nabbed the next day in adjacent Brgy. Tabun-ak, all upland barangays of Toboso town, the police said.
Prado denied involvement in the death of Jessie.
Police investigators noted that Prado and Engganay were sporting long beards, and wearing what appears to be dark blue uniforms.
Leyte said Prado and Engganay were also heard talking in a strange dialect inside the Toboso police lock-up cell.
Their arrest triggered speculations among residents in the upland areas of Toboso about the existence of a cultist group targeting minors.
Talks about a cultist group from Surigao province in Mindanao arriving in Toboso also alarmed residents, but these were downplayed by Leyte, who said there is no confirmation of such reports.