Davao City

Former Quiboloy followers hail move to start Senate probe into group’s practices

Herbie Gomez

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Former Quiboloy followers hail move to start Senate probe into group’s practices

PREACHER. Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church and a friend of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Quiboloy's Facebook page

Former followers of controversial doomsday preacher Apollo Quiboloy say the standards used by the senators on Señor Aguila and his group should also be applied to Quiboloy and his church

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Former followers of controversial doomsday preacher Apollo Quiboloy hailed Senator Risa Hontiveros’ move for a Senate committee to investigate the alleged abuses in the Davao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC).

Hontiveros filed on Monday, December 11, Senate Resolution 884, seeking a Senate directive for its Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality to start an official inquiry into the alleged large-scale human trafficking, rape, sexual abuse, and violence, and child abuse committed by the KOJC. The committee, incidentally, is chaired by Hontiveros herself.

Arlene Caminong Stone, one of the first former KOJC members to come forward and disclose the alleged excesses of Quiboloy’s group, told Rappler that it was about time for the government to scrutinize the inner workings of the KOJC.

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Stone said it has been years since she and other alleged victims of abuses by Quiboloy’s group cried out for help from the government, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Quiboloy, an influential preacher who has been known to associate with the rich and powerful, is a close friend and spiritual adviser of former president Rodrigo Duterte.

The tables, however, appeared to have turned on Quiboloy when his group, Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), came under fire from the House of Representatives after its program anchors, Jeffrey Celiz and Lorraine Badoy, made supposedly false allegations that Speaker Martin Romualdez spent P1.8 million on travel expenses.

“There wasn’t anyone in our Philippine government who had heard us, even after the numerous emails sent to them,” Stone told Rappler.

She said she and other former KOJC members “felt so irrelevant” until Hontiveros called for an official investigation into their allegations against Quiboloy and their group.

Stone said Hontiveros’ staff has been in touch with her and her group.

In late 2021, the Minnesota-based Stone disclosed the alleged practice of Quiboloy to have “spiritual wives” picked from a group of “pastorals,” who serve as aides and take care of the preacher’s needs, including household chores.

The allegations made by Stone and other former KOJC members during the exclusive 2021 Rappler interviews were consistent with the charges against Quiboloy’s group in the United States.

Quiboloy and several of his associates have been indicted in Los Angeles, California, for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, sex trafficking of children, marriage fraud, fraud and misuse of visas, bulk cash smuggling, promotional money laundering, concealment money laundering, and international promotional money laundering.

In January 2022, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) published a wanted poster of Quiboloy and two of his associates, Teresita Dandan and Helen Panilag.

In the indictment papers, US prosecutors alleged that Quiboloy engaged in sexual activities with some of his “pastorals” while in the US, including minors, coercing them through threats of physical harm and “eternal damnation” in a practice known as “night duty.”

The pastorals, which included alleged spiritual wives and victims of sexual abuse, benefited from perks and the preacher’s generosity funded by church workers, according to prosecutors.

Stone said she and other former KOJC members hoped the country’s legislators would “show that, this time, nobody is above the law regardless of their affiliations and connections in the government.” 

Accountability

Stone said Quiboloy and his group should be held accountable just as they did when legislators recently looked into the alleged cult-like practices and abuses of Jey Rence Quilario, also known to his followers as Señor Aguila and his Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated (SBSI) in Surigao del Norte.

The former KOJC members said the same standards the senators used on Quilario’s group should apply to Quiboloy and his church. 

Another former KOJC member, the Singapore-based Reynita, said she was “overjoyed” when she learned that a senator had sought an official investigation into the activities of Quiboloy and his group, adding that it was long overdue.

Fernandez said she can’t wait for a Senate committee to summon Quiboloy and his key KOJC associates to answer questions about their group’s practices and alleged abuses.

Fernandez and other former Quiboloy followers told Rappler in 2021 that KOJC workers were subjected to challenging fund-raising expectations, including church tithes, throughout the year under the guise of serving God through Quiboloy, a self-styled “appointed son of God.”

She and other former KOJC members said the fund-raising efforts, including street-level solicitations, allegedly allowed the preacher to have a lavish lifestyle.

They said the imposed quotas compelled many to sacrifice education and jobs, engage in street begging, food sales, and, in extreme cases, even take out loans.

The former members and US prosecutors alleged that international collections were discreetly funneled to Quiboloy’s group in the Philippines in small increments to avoid detection. – Rappler.com

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