On the day US federal prosecutors indicted Davao-based Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the self-styled preacher and President Rodrigo Duterte’s adviser went all-out in his support for the presidential bid of Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, saying it was God that made him run for the top post.
“It’s his (Go’s) destiny,” said Quiboloy on Thursday, November 18, the same day US prosecutors in Los Angeles announced sex trafficking charges against the preacher and several of his associates.
Quiboloy, founder and leader of the Davao-based group Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC), also had nothing but praises for Duterte, calling him a “political genius” for the choice of Go as his administration’s presidential bet.
Quiboloy claimed he and Go talked, and he told the senator that he would succeed Duterte.
“Namutla ang tao (He turned pale). It’s his destiny,” he said, amused.
Go, accompanied by Duterte, submitted his substitution papers to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) two days before its November 15 deadline, a surprise move that came hours after the President’s daughter Sara substituted for a Lakas-CMD bet for vice president.
Sara, Davao City’s mayor, is running for vice president in tandem with ex-senator and presidential hopeful Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a decision that did not sit well with her father who had wanted her to seek the presidency.
But for Quiboloy, the move to field Go only showed that Duterte was a “political genius,” saying that the neophyte senator was the closest and best choice for the presidency, next to Sara, to ensure the continuity of the administration’s work.
“’Pag ‘yan sinabi niyang ‘Go, Bong Go,’ Bong Go ang magiging sunod na presidente natin. Doon tayo kasi alam niya [Duterte] ang ginagawa niya. That is another brilliant move of this President, proving that he is a political genius. Kaya doon tayo. Nakita na natin ang resulta ng kanyang leadership. E saan pa tayo?” Quiboloy said during his program “Powerline” live-streamed on social media platforms.
(When he says, ‘Go, Bong Go,’ then Bong Go will be our president. We follow because he knows what he is doing. That is another brilliant move of this President, proving that he is a political genius. That’s why we follow. We have seen the results of his leadership. So, who else should we support?)
Quibiloy said he was “disheartened” when Go filed his certificate of candidacy for vice president in October.
It was divine intervention, he said.
“Ang Ama biglang pinatalsik ang tao pataas. Napaiyak ang tao kasi ayaw niya,” Quiboloy said.
(The Father suddenly intervened and pushed him (Go) up. He was in tears because he didn’t want it.)
The 71-year-old Quiboloy has been a close friend of Duterte and has maintained close ties with the President even when the latter was Davao City’s mayor. He supported Duterte’s successful presidential bid in 2016 and even lent his plane to the then-presidential candidate during his campaign.
The influential preacher, whose endorsements were sought by many politicians in past elections, holds some of the most unusual teachings that other Christian groups scoff at.
For instance, he has convinced thousands of his followers that he owns the universe, that he is the “appointed Son of God,” and that the “New Jerusalem” is located in a poverty-stricken Davao village where his group built a gated compound.
With his indictment, women’s rights advocates have called on the government to look into Quiboloy and his church’s activities.
The pastor and his group have yet to issue a statement about the controversy surrounding the sex trafficking charges against him by US federal prosecutors as of this posting.
‘Opportunity to do right’
A critic of the Duterte family in Davao City, Maria Victoria “Mags” Maglana, said the government should initiate an investigation to ascertain if Philippine laws on human trafficking and violence against women and children were violated by Quiboloy and his group.
Maglana, who is challenging the reelection bid of Duterte’s son Paolo in Davao’s 1st congressional district, said legislators may want to inquire on the status of implementation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, among others, to ensure that these laws are applied regardless of who is involved.
“The Philippines also has an extradition treaty with the US for criminal acts. Following this, the Philippines should cooperate to ensure that Mr. Quiboloy is extradited and stands trial in the US for the charges against him,” she said.
Maglana added, “The people of Davao City will take a strong interest in ensuring that justice is served to the women and minors who were reportedly coerced into having sexual acts with Mr. Quiboloy… The sex trafficking indictment against Mr. Quiboloy is our opportunity to do right by our women and girls, and uphold rule of law.” – with reports from Grace Albasin / Rappler