Hontiveros: Quiboloy must answer for alleged extortion of OFWs

Hontiveros: Quiboloy must answer for alleged extortion of OFWs
Photo shows Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder and preacher Pastor Quiboloy.
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy Facebook Page

MANILA, Philippines — Controversial preacher Apollo Quiboloy should also be held accountable for allegedly forcing Filipino migrant workers to donate their salaries to his church, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said on Sunday.

“Araw-gabi kumayod ang mga overseas Filipino workers (OFW), tapos imbes na mapunta sa pamilya nila ang pinagtrabahuan nila, pilit silang hinuhuthutan ni Quiboloy,” Hontiveros said, adding they were also coerced to sell products to remit to the religious group Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC). 

(OFWs work hard day and night. But instead of their hard-earned money going to their families, Quiboloy forcibly extorts from them.)

During a Senate hearing last week into the alleged exploitation, sexual and other abuses committed against former workers of KOJC, Reynita Fernandez, an OFW based in Singapore, said that she and other migrant workers were pressured and harassed into giving 90% of their salaries to Quiboloy.

“Reynita lost her home because she gave her entire salary, and she's definitely not the only OFW victimized,” Hontiveros said. “We call our OFWs our modern-day heroes, yet we are failing to protect them from fraudsters like Quiboloy.”

Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate women and gender equality committee, cited Quiboloy in contempt and ordered his arrest following his repeated refusals to attend the panel’s probe into alleged abuses committed by him and KOJC leaders. 

She said that resource persons cannot simply use their right to be presumed innocent or right against self-incrimination to justify their absence from official Senate investigations.

Sens. Robinhood Padilla, Bong Go, Cynthia Villar and Imee Marcos signed a letter objecting to the Senate panel’s decision to hold Quiboloy in contempt.

“I call on my colleagues in the Senate to actually listen to these victim-survivors. Sigurado ako na kapag mapakinggan nila ang mga karanasan ng mga dating miyembro ni Quiboloy, walang mag-aatubiling manindigan para sa katarungan,” Hontiveros said. 

(I am sure that when they listen to the experiences of former members of [Quiboloy’s church], no one will hesitate to stand up for justice.)

In November 2021, Quiboloy, an ally of former President Rodrigo Duterte, was indicted by a federal grand jury in California on charges including sex trafficking, child sex trafficking and bulk cash smuggling. 

He is also one of the most wanted individuals by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from Cristina Chi

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