Quiboloy cannot refuse Senate subpoenas – Justice Carpio

Daphne Galvez - The Philippine Star
Quiboloy cannot refuse Senate subpoenas � Justice Carpio
Photo shows Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder and preacher Pastor Quiboloy.
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy Facebook Page

MANILA, Philippines — Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) founder and leader Apollo Quiboloy cannot refuse to attend a Senate inquiry on accusations of human trafficking and sexual abuse against him and his members, as it is his obligation as a citizen to attend when summoned, according to retired Supreme Court (SC) justice Antonio Carpio.

Carpio said Quiboloy could not refuse to attend the hearings of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality on the ground that the inquiry, the preacher’s camp claimed, violates his constitutional rights to due process and self-incrimination.

Carpio added that the Senate could not violate his right against self-incrimination when he has not even been questioned yet.

“You can’t say that the Senate or the senators will violate your constitutional rights. That’s premature. You are obliged to attend. As a citizen, you must appear,” Carpio said in an interview over Radyo 630 yesterday.

“Before you are asked a question, there is no danger to you yet of self-incrimination. You have to attend the hearing first and if you are asked a self-incriminating question, then that’s the time you will say, ‘no, I will not answer that,’” he added.

The retired SC justice reiterated that the embattled KOJC leader could not assume that he would be asked a self-incrimination question during the hearing and use that as a basis not to attend.

Carpio said Quiboloy has the right to refuse to answer self-incriminating questions, but he has to attend the hearings first.

The Senate earlier ordered Quiboloy’s arrest and detention for his continued refusal to attend the Senate panel hearings.

The preacher’s camp has filed a petition before the SC to stop the Senate from enforcing the arrest order and to stop demanding Quiboloy attend the hearings.

Carpio said the SC has already issued several decisions upholding the Senate’s power to summon individuals in legislative inquiries, and this could prompt the high tribunal to either drop Quiboloy’s petition for lack of merit or take it up.

Quiboloy’s lawyer Elvis Balayan earlier said the pastor’s camp will “exert all available legal remedies to protect his constitutional rights.”

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who chairs the committee, earlier said the Senate proceedings were not meant to determine Quiboloy’s guilt or innocence, but rather look at gaps in the law.

Hontiveros also assured Quiboloy’s camp that his constitutional rights will be respected should he physically attend the hearings, citing precedents where high-profile personalities were invited to the Senate.

Aside from the Senate inquiry, Quiboloy is also facing criminal charges that have been filed before trial courts in Davao City and Pasig City over his alleged sexual abuse and qualified human trafficking of a then 17-year-old girl in 2011.

The charges that have been filed against Quiboloy before the Davao City Regional Trial Court were for violations of Section 5(b) and Section 10(a) of Republic Act 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, according to the Department of Justice.

Meanwhile, a case for violation of Section 4(a) of RA 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking Persons Act of 2003, which is non-bailable, has been filed against Quiboloy and others before the Pasig RTC.

Earlier this month, a California judge ordered the unsealing of the arrest warrants against Quiboloy and his co-accused.

Among the cases against Quiboloy involve conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud, coercion, sex trafficking of children, conspiracy and cash smuggling.

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