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Sidelined, Quiboloy is hurting

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 03:56 AM May 21, 2016
QUIBOLOY was boxed out by Duterte’s cordon sanitaire. GRIG MONTEGRANDE

QUIBOLOY was boxed out by Duterte’s cordon sanitaire. GRIG MONTEGRANDE

He had an airplane and a helicopter on standby 24/7 for his friend throughout the three-month campaign, part of a three-decade friendship that included daily phone calls, golf games and motorbike rides, but why is Apollo Quiboloy now sidelined as Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte prepares for the presidency?

In an unexpected move, the camp of the founder of the homegrown Christian sect Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name, on Friday openly criticized the presumptive President-elect’s men, saying they had set up a cordon sanitaire around Duterte that left out his own spiritual adviser.

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“It’s quite a powerful cordon sanitaire that left out the original supporters of Mayor Duterte, including Pastor Quiboloy himself. It pains us and it saddens us,” Mike Abe, a spokesperson for Quiboloy, told the Inquirer by phone in Filipino.

READ: Quiboloy hurt in selection of Duterte’s Cabinet members

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Abe named Duterte’s longtime executive assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go, and incoming presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo as the ones controlling the cordon sanitaire.

He said the last time Duterte and Quiboloy spoke to each other was at 2 a.m. on May 10, adding he was there.

“After that, their communication was already cut off. We believe there are people getting in the way of the two friends,” Abe said.

Abe said those who comprised Duterte’s cordon sanitaire were people from the office of the Davao mayor.

“But this is now the national scene. We should no longer think local because Mayor Duterte’s administration has to succeed,” Abe said.

Since Thursday, Abe has been quoted in news reports as saying Quiboloy is hurting as the self-styled pastor has been left out by Duterte in the selection of members of his Cabinet.

‘Voice’ in selection

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Abe said Quiboloy felt he should “have a voice” in the selection of Cabinet officials, being the spiritual adviser of Duterte and his friend for the past 30 years.

“Pastor Quiboloy is not interested in a quid pro quo but he wants to be included in the selection process, to have a voice in the process, but he will not make any recommendations in terms of accepting or rejecting a nominee. What he wants is to take part in vetting the qualifications of a nominee, to help in double-checking their backgrounds, especially for the sensitive positions,” Abe said.

Quiboloy, 66, claims to be the “appointed son of God.” He says that 16 years ago, he predicted that Duterte would be elected President in a landslide.

Abe said Quiboloy wanted to help Duterte in advancing his campaign promise of change.

“People should feel that change… Positions cannot be arbitrarily given and take us all by surprise,” Abe said, adding that Quiboloy believed the appointments should not be done hastily.

According to Abe, the appointments can be announced in the second or third week of June, after a thorough review of the nominees’ qualifications.

The way Duterte is making appointments to his Cabinet is “worrisome,” Abe said.

“It’s like pointing at people and naming them to positions,” he said.

Lobbying politicians

In an interview with Inquirer.net, Abe said politicians lobbied for some of the appointments.

Quoting Duterte’s spokesperson Peter Laviña, Abe said reelected Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar was initially considered for the trade and industry portfolio, but Duterte’s vice presidential running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, lobbied for him to be named public works secretary.

READ: Mark Villar accepts Cabinet post under Duterte

There was no immediate comment from Cayetano on Friday.

Villar, son of former Sen. Manuel Villar and incumbent Sen. Cynthia Villar, met with Duterte in Davao on Monday night and the presumptive President-elect offered the post to him. His parents were also there.

Abe said Quiboloy gave his unequivocal support to Duterte during the campaign, having his private jet and helicopter at the then-candidate’s disposal anytime.

“Pastor Quiboloy helped Mayor Duterte a lot during the campaign,” Abe said.

He said groups supportive of Quiboloy committed votes for Duterte, not to mention the 6.5 million followers of the sect throughout the world.

Quiboloy and Duterte “were more than brothers,” Abe said.

“Their friendship spans 30 years and not a day passes that they do not talk to each other. They would call each other up even if Pastor Quiboloy is in the US. They play golf and go motorbike riding together. They have their bonding moments. It’s a solid friendship,” Abe said.

No cordon sanitaire

In Davao City, Laviña denied there was a cordon sanitaire around Duterte. He said suggestions for positions from as many people as possible were welcome.

According to Laviña, Duterte’s camps heard about the criticisms against the appointments on Quiboloy’s radio station, but learned that Quiboloy had not been consulted on the matter.

He said that those handling Duterte’s visitors were indeed people from the city mayor’s office.

“The reception of the guests, well-wishers is handled by the city mayor’s office. That’s why Bong Go as chief of staff, staff from the city information office and tourism office and a few other officials are the ones handling it,” he said.

“We are involved in the facilitation, but as to the actual reception, we don’t have any participation,” Laviña said.

He said Duterte’s camp would apologize to Quiboloy.

“Hopefully we can extend our apology to Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the same apology we extended to (Moro National Liberation Front spokesperson Rev. Absalom) Cerveza, these are not intentional, we wanted to accommodate everyone,” he said.

READ: Duterte camp apologizes to Quiboloy

Cerveza reportedly lined up on Monday to congratulate Duterte, but was turned down by the mayor’s staff.

“Things happen,” Laviña said.

“We are not trained to do it perfectly. If there are a few who were not entertained, we extend our apologies and adjust accordingly,” he said.

Laviña said he was sure Duterte and Quiboloy would meet soon and the next Philippine leader may consult Quiboloy on some of the nominees. With reports from Nestor Corrales, Inquirer.net; and Allan Nawal and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao/TVJ

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TAGS: Apollo Quiboloy, Bong Go, Christian Sect, duterte, Duterte cabinet, Kingdom of Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name, Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, Pastor Quiboloy, Peter Laviña, Quiboloy, Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo
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