Bong Reblando, Manila Bulletin Online, Aug. 20
GENERAL SANTOS CITY — One of the suspects in the grisly murder of a villager in Glan, Sarangani whose flesh was eaten and his blood drank by a “cannibal gang,” was taken into custody, police said.
Senior Supt. Efren Valeriano, Sarangani police director, said Ruben Latang Jr., brother of Sabino and Angelito Latang, who were earlier captured by the police, surrendered to the police station in Glan with the help of Barangay Captain Boy Roque of Laguimit.
Before his surrender, another suspect, Enrique Dundan, yielded to the police in Glan, Valeriano stated in a report to Chief Supt. Danilo Mangila, Central Mindanao police chief.
Operatives of the police in nearby Jose Abad Santos town, Davao del Sur, backed up by Glan policemen, arrested Sabino and Angelito Latang for the killing of Celso Lamitod, barangay tanod of Riod del Pilar, Glan.
Mangila had ordered Valeriano to conduct a hunt for the “cannibal gang,” which has sown terror in the far-flung villages at the borders of Glan, Sarangani and Jose Abad Santos in Davao del Sur.
In the 70s to 80s, the first “cannibalism” pratice was attributed to the group of “Kumander Bucay,” whose members were reported to have eaten the flesh of their Muslim victims during the “Ilaga” and Moro rebel fighting.
Norberto Manero Jr., chieftain of the dreaded “Ilaga,” a para-military group, was even convicted of slaying of Italian priest Fr. Tulio Favalli in Tulunan, North Cotabato, where, he and his brother allegedly tasted the brain of the slain priest.
In a press conference, Ruben Latang admitted that he took part in the killing of Lamitod last month but said, unlike his brothers Sabino and Angelito and the other gang members, he “did not eat the victim’s flesh nor drink his blood.”
Ruben said his conscience was bothering him everyday and has no peace of mind so he decided to surrender with the help of his friend, Barangay Captain Roque.
Also, the suspect confessed that the “cannibal gang” killed Lamitod for his unpaid debt of only R40.
He confirmed that the “cannibal gang” did eat the “human heart and liver” of their victims and drink their blood, believing that it is an effective “amulet” to protect them from bullets and bladed weapons.
“It’s true that my brothers Sabino and Angelito and the rest of the gang, except me, took part in eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our victims as part of a ritual to acquired an amulet,” Ruben Latang told reporters.