DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Pastor Apollo Quiboloy said he will not use his longtime friendship with president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to interfere with “national interest.”
“Kahit kaibigan ako, kung ako ang nakakaharang sa national interest ng ating bansa, ako na mismo ang aalis,” he told media on Monday, May 23.
(Even if I am a friend, if I am the one getting in the way of national interest, I will be the one to leave.)
His statement comes on the heels of his apparent concern with Duterte’s Cabinet appointments and his reduced access to the president-elect with whom he shares a “30-year friendship.”
Quiboloy, the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, said he wanted to correct “misunderstandings” that he would be benefiting from his friendship with Duterte in a way that harms the public good.
“Pareho po kami ni Mayor na nagbabantay sa public interest. Ako rin po bilang Kingdom leader ganoon din po ang aking value o tinatayuan,” he said.
(The Mayor and I are both safeguarding the public interest. As Kingdom leader, I stand on the same values.)
But in the same breath, Quiboloy emphasized that he would put the interests of his religious group above all else.
“Meron akong Kingdom interest. Kung sinuman ang nakapalibot sa akin, malapit man o hindi, ‘pag ka ang aming pagkakaibigan ay hindi ayon sa Kingdom interest ay hindi ko po sila uunahin. Uunahin ko talaga ang Kingdom interest,” he said.
(I look out for Kingdom interest. Whoever is around me, close or not, if our friendship is not consistent with the interests of the Kingdom, I will not put them first. I will put the Kingdom interest first.)
Quiboloy did not grant interviews after giving his statement. His executive secretary, Nori Cardona, said Quiboloy had to catch a flight to China.
Speaking to media, Cardona said that it’s “back to normal” for Quiboloy after the elections.
She added that Quiboloy is not making any demands in behalf of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to Duterte. She clarified that the religious leader also did not make and does not plan to make any recommendations for Duterte’s Cabinet.
Before leaving, Quiboloy said he spent around a week in his highland retreat, Prayer Mountain, to “semi-fast” and pray for Duterte and the success of Duterte’s presidency.
Meanwhile, Duterte said on May 21 that he is determined not to let his friendships influence his governance.
“My loyalty to you as a friend ends where my loyalty to my country begins,” he said.
Duterte has drawn criticism for accepting properties and cars from Quiboloy which he maintains are gifts borne out of friendship. – Rappler.com