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While hiding from Congress, Quiboloy hurls conspiracies on social media

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
While hiding from Congress, Quiboloy hurls conspiracies on social media
Apollo Quiboloy
AFP / Manman Dejeto

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have threatened to arrest and cite in contempt pastor Apollo Quiboloy for evading their summons to separate committee investigations on his actions as the leader of a megachurch and founder of television network SMNI.

Urged to face the accusations against him — including allegations he sexually and physically abused members of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC), according to Senate witnesses — Quiboloy has instead opted to hurl conspiracies on social media that he is in hiding due to an “assassination” plot against him approved by the president, among others.

In a 37-minute audio recording posted on Facebook, Quiboloy claimed that the United States government is in cahoots with President Marcos Jr. to conduct “rendition” on him instead of extradition and that the plot involves “killing” him and his church leaders.

“I have been given to foreigners. If this is true, own up to it. If I’m wrong, correct me. My life is now in danger,” Quiboloy said in Filipino.

Based on “reliable sources” that he did not name, the controversial pastor said that his 11 compounds are currently being monitored by people “conducting surveillance with the aim of killing or kidnapping me and my leaders.”

“Me, my leaders, they want to kill us all,” Quiboloy said.

The televangelist added that it is “not my fault” that he is close to former President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte.

Among other conspiracies he shared in his audio message, Quiboloy claimed that there was a $2 million bounty on his head and that there are plans to “plant” bombs, guns and drugs in his properties, which would then be incorporated by someone else.

Escaping subpoena order 

Both the House and the Senate issued subpoena orders against Quiboloy last week — a legitimate power that lawmakers can use to compel witnesses and key figures to show up to Congress as part of an investigation of an issue. 

To recall, the House agriculture and food committee in February 2023 issued subpoena orders against warehouse owners who did not attend hearings in connection to the onion shortage and price inflation in 2022.

In November 2023, the Senate issued a subpoena against three executives of a POGO company accused of engaging in illegal activities.

In a statement on Wednesday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who is leading the probe into the alleged sexual abuses and exploitative acts committed by KOJC members and issued the subpoena against Quiboloy, urged the pastor to "not play victim."

“What I’m asking from you is to adhere to the legal process, and part of the process is the Senate investigation,” Hontiveros said in Filipino.

“Don’t escalate this into a language of killing, even if that’s what you have been used to,” Hontiveros added.

The senator added that she would cite Quiboloy in contempt and have him arrested if he does not show up to the Senate’s next hearing on March 5.

It was during the Senate’s second hearing on the alleged abuses by KOJC that one witness named “Rene” said he saw the vice president and former president Duterte receive “bags of guns” at one of Quiboloy’s compounds. Rene worked as a landscaper for the pastor and, according to his testimony, was regularly abused.

Vice President Duterte has refused to directly address the allegation and described Rene's testimony as part of a series of attacks on her personhood.

Similarly, House lawmakers on Tuesday threatened to have Quiboloy arrested if he continues to snub the next hearing of the legislative franchises committee, which is currently tackling a bill seeking SMNI’s franchise revocation after it allegedly aired false content on their programs.

House Bill (HB) 9710 was filed in December by Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez (1-Rider Partylist) shortly after two SMNI anchors claimed that House Speaker Martin Romualdez had billions in travel funds.

Gutierrez said in a news conference on Tuesday that Quiboloy's attendance in the House is necessary to determine the extent of the violations committed by the broadcast network, saying that lawmakers are not satisfied with the answers given by his legal representatives.

“Even hook or by crook, they are sticking by their stance that seem like excuses. But as lawmakers, we demand answers,” Gutierrez said in Filipino. 

Rep. Margarita Nograles (PBA Partylist) said that Quiboloy is being summoned as a “matter of due process” to have him directly respond to questions that require his personal knowledge.

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