Pacquiao, Lacson, Robredo, Moreno to skip Quiboloy’s SMNI debate
MANILA, Philippines (Updated) — Four presidential candidates have so far declined to participate in the debate to be hosted by SMNI, the broadcasting arm of Kingdom of Jesus Christ church led by Pastor Quiboloy.
Presidential candidate Senator Manny Pacquiao on Monday said he cannot “in good conscience” attend the debate considering that Quiboloy is wanted for sex trafficking charges in the US.
“As much as I would like to participate in every debate and public forum related to my bid for the presidency, I am compelled to decline the invitation of SMNI, which is owned by Apollo Quiboloy, who, according to the US government, has molested and abused children,” Pacquiao said in a statement.
“I cannot, in good conscience, be part of any activity organized by a man wanted for detestable crimes and who unconscionably used the name of the Lord in vain for religious scams,” he added.
Aside from sex trafficking charges, Pacquialo also noted that he still has pending cyberlibel case against Quiboloy.
“Kaya mas mabuting tanggihan ang imbitasyon ng SMNI para hindi mabigyan ito ng kahit anumang kahulugan na maaaring makaapekto sa aming kaso,” the boxer-turned-politician said.
(That’s why it would be better to decline the invitation of the SMNI so that it would not be given any meaning that could affect our case.)
Presidential candidate Senator Lacson, meanwhile, said he and his running mate Vicente Sotto III are skipping the debate since Quiboloy has openly endorsed another presidential and vice presidential candidates: the tandem of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio.
“With all due respect and giving regard to common sense, SP TIto Sotto and I are skipping the SMNI debates. The network’s chairman, Pastor Quiboloy has already openly endorsed his preferred presidential and vice-presidential candidates,” Lacson said in a Twitter post.
With all due respect and giving regard to common sense, SP TIto Sotto and I are skipping the SMNI debates. The network’s chairman, Pastor Quiboloy has already openly endorsed his preferred presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) February 14, 2022ADVERTISEMENT
For her part, presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo is set to meet with leaders and supporters in Panay Island during the day the debate was scheduled therefore she cannot attend, her office said.
Robredo, instead, will be present in all upcoming Comelec-sponsored and accredited debates.
“Leni Robredo has a proven track record of attending debates and interviews regardless of the personal histories or affiliations of its sponsors. Unfortunately, the VP already has a long standing commitment to meet with leaders and supporters in Panay Island on the date this event was scheduled,” Robredo’s spokesman Barry Gutierrez said in a statement.
“She will be unable to attend this privately sponsored event, but will definitely be present for all the upcoming COMELEC sponsored and accredited debates,” he added.
Presidential candidate Manila Mayor Isko Moreno will likewise not attend the debate as he has a “full schedule,” Aksyon Demokratiko, Moreno’s party, chairman Ernest Ramel said.
“Negative. He will be in Samar provinces today & tomorrow and has a full schedule ahead,” Ramel said in a text message to INQUIRER.net when asked if Moreno would attend the SMNI debate.
The SMNI debate is set on Feb. 15.
So far, only presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., whose candidacy was publicly endorsed by Quiboloy in the 2022 polls, has confirmed to attend the SMNI debate.
Marcos Jr., meanwhile, has declined the invitation of CNN Philippines for a debate.
“Yes, we have declined the invitation of CNN Philippines and yes, presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos will attend the SMNI live debate tomorrow,” Marcos Jr.’s spokesman Atty. Vic Rodriguez said in a text message.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Jan. 31 published a wanted poster seeking information leading to his arrest for “conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, and sex trafficking of children; sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; conspiracy; bulk cash smuggling.”
The FBI released the wanted list nearly three months after Quiboloy and his senior aides were indicted by a US federal grand jury in California for allegedly forcing girls and young women to have sex with him to save them from “eternal damnation.”
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