Congress to Quiboloy: Come out of hiding

Sheila Crisostomo, Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Congress to Quiboloy: Come out of hiding
Apollo Quiboloy
AFP / Manman Dejeto

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers yesterday called on Kingdom of Jesus Christ leader Apollo Quiboloy to come out of hiding and attend the congressional probes on alleged sexual abuses in his group and franchise violations of his broadcast network.

At a virtual press briefing yesterday, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian advised the sect leader to participate in the congressional inquiries lest he be perceived as guilty.

“He should not hide, because that is a sign of guilt. The best way is to respect the process and answer the allegations before the Senate. We are not a court to render a decision,” Gatchalian said.

He said Quiboloy should be physically and not just virtually present so he could have the chance to respond directly to the serious allegations against him.

“He should not be afraid of the Senate,” Gatchalian said. “If he hides, the Senate and the House will be forced to coordinate with the Philippine National Police to locate him,” he added.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, as chair of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, led the hearing where witnesses testified they were sexually abused and forced to beg in the streets for Quiboloy’s group.

The subpoena to compel Quiboloy to attend the March 5 hearing was sent to the sect leader’s Davao City residence and received by his counsel Marie Dinah Tolentino Fuentes, according to Hontiveros’ office.

Hontiveros scoffed at Quiboloy’s claim that he is in hiding due to an alleged assassination plot hatched by the administration and the United States.

“He should not play victim. What we are only asking from him is to face the legal processes here, and that includes the Senate investigation,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros reiterated her warning that she would order Quiboloy arrested for contempt if he defies the subpoena and snubs the next hearing.

The House of Representatives is also engaged in a separate probe on Quiboloy, specifically on the alleged franchise violation of his television network Sonshine Media Network International.

Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales said Quiboloy should honor the House subpoena as “no one is above the law.”

The House committee on legislative franchises is set to hear the SMNI franchise issue on March 12.

“We remind Pastor Quiboloy that he must comply with the subpoena, or we will have no choice but to hold him in contempt and proceed with his arrest. No one is above the law. Pastor Quiboloy is not exempt from the law,” he pointed out.

The committee subpoenaed Quiboloy after he disregarded prior invitations to appear before the panel for the deliberation of a bill aimed at revoking the legislative franchise of SMNI.

Committee members wanted to question Quiboloy directly about his involvement in SMNI, especially since his lawyer Mark Tolentino had claimed that the pastor was only the “honorary chairman” of the network and was not involved in its daily operations.

But information available suggests he is the “beneficial owner” of the network, which frequently airs his preaching.

Gonzales also said Quiboloy’s accusing the Marcos administration and the US of conspiring to kill him was a “desperate attempt to deflect from the issue and set the stage for potential defiance of the subpoena.”

“In the next hearing if he does not show up, I think the committee should cite him in contempt and seek his subsequent arrest,” he said.

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