Quiboloy snub prompts Sen. Risa Hontiveros to seek his arrest

PHOTO: Risa Hontiveros STORY: Quiboloy snub prompts Sen. Risa Hontiveros to seek his arrest

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (File photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — A Senate panel on Tuesday sought the issuance of an arrest warrant against Davao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KJC) founder and leader Apollo Quiboloy for his continued refusal to attend the investigation of alleged abuses and human trafficking cases involving him and his religious sect.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, also moved to cite Quiboloy for contempt for being a no-show at the panel’s third hearing despite two previously issued subpoenas.

“Pursuant to Section 18 of the Rules of the Senate, as chair of the committee, with the concurrence of one member here with me, I cite in contempt Apollo Carreon Quiboloy for his refusal to be sworn [in] or to testify before this investigation. This committee requests the Senate President to order his arrest so that he may be brought to testify,” said Hontiveros, who was joined by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

However, Sen. Robinhood Padilla objected, saying, “With all due respect, I object to the decision of the committee to cite Pastor Quiboloy [for] contempt.”

READ: Senate panel seeks arrest of Quiboloy for skipping probe of his alleged crimes

7-day deadline

Hontiveros noted his objection and said that Section 18 of the rules of procedure governing inquiries in aid of legislation allows most of all committee members, in this case eight, to “reverse or modify” the contempt order within seven days.

“The majority of the members of the committee have seven days to formalize the objection to the ruling of the chair to hold Pastor Quiboloy in contempt,” she added.

According to Hontiveros, the Senate’s power to conduct investigations in aid of legislation has long been settled by the Supreme Court.

“The Senate cannot put Quiboloy in jail for the allegations against him because we are not judges. That’s the job of the legal … but it is within the Senate’s power to hold accountable anyone who does not recognize the authority of the Senate to launch investigations, including one’s failure to attend a probe despite a valid subpoena,” she said.

Quiboloy, through his lawyer, Melanio Balayan, had asked the Senate to recall and set aside the subpoenas against him.

In a letter addressed to Hontiveros and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Balayan invoked his client’s right against self-incrimination.

But Hontiveros said the Senate’s power to conduct investigations would weaken if it would excuse witnesses who claim that appearing before a committee would violate their constitutional right to be presumed innocent and against self-incrimination.

Show of support

During the hearing, some of Quiboloy’s supporters gathered outside the Senate building, carrying posters with messages like “Protect Pastor Apollo Quiboloy” and “Justice for Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.”

Two new witnesses were presented, revealing alleged moneymaking schemes by KJC members abroad.

One of them, Reynita Fernandez, a household helper in Singapore, claimed that she had to give almost all of her earnings to KJC when she rejoined the ministry in 2016.

“We do everything like getting a loan, soliciting, selling, everything that earns money just so you could remit to them. We are given a certain quota,” she said.

“We were made to believe that the more tithes you give, the more blessings you will receive … when they see that you are very committed [to] giving, they increase your tithes to 90 percent,” she said.

Dindo Maquiling, former executive director of the Children’s Joy Foundation in Canada, said he joined KJC when he volunteered to help Quiboloy raise funds for the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).

Maquiling said he started to doubt the ministry when he realized the televangelist was “fooling the people to collect money for the children” when these funds were used for Quiboloy’s lavish lifestyle.