All hell broke loose as die-hard followers of controversial Davao City-based Pastor Apollo Quiboloy closed ranks behind the embattled preacher on Sunday, November 28.
Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) “pastoral” Arlene Rillon was all fired up, standing on Quiboloy’s pulpit to pledge unconditional loyalty and obedience to the self-proclaimed “appointed son of God” while daring his accusers and even the United States to “bring it on.”
It was a reference to the sex trafficking case against the 71-year-old spiritual adviser and close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte who has long been seen by his followers as a deity.
“Pastorals” like Rillon are members of the church’s pastoral department. The department – with relatively young and attractive female members, some of whom also double as church singers – is a pool of personal assistants whose tasks include serving food, arranging Quiboloy’s clothes, and organizing and carrying his personal belongings.
Rillon’s battle cry during a live-streamed church service was short of a call to arms against the US, the American justice system, and Quiboloy’s accusers.
“As the appointed son (Quiboloy) has laid down his life for me, I am also more than willing to lay down my life for him,” the Baguio City-born Rillon, who has served in the KOJC’s pastoral care ministry for 18 years, told a cheering crowd.
But as Rillon hurled brickbats at Quiboloy’s accusers during the Sunday service, she also unwittingly disclosed a history of “carnal” activities around the preacher that supposedly involved his former “pastorals.” For her, the “fleshly sins” happened, but it was just a question of who committed these.
In Quiboloy’s hierarchical church, “pastorals,” are said to feel a certain sense of pride because their tasks, no matter how menial, means being with the man who has claimed deity status.
It was Rillon’s parents who complained about their daughter going full time in Quiboloy’s group supposedly when she was still a minor nearly two decades ago, an allegation the “pastoral” has strongly denied.
Rillon, who spent most of her life in Quiboloy’s church, has turned against her parents, accusing them of rumor-mongering and falsely accusing Quiboloy of being a kidnapper, a cult leader, and a brainwasher.
She alleged that the women’s rights advocate Gabriela, which she associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), was behind her parents’ case against Quiboloy.
She said she reached the legal age of 18, and not 14 as alleged when she “voluntarily committed and joined” Quiboloy’s group in May 2004.
Rillon said her parents, particularly her mother, were supposedly proven wrong in court.
“No one forced or coerced me,” Rillon said as she turned to former “pastorals” of the KOJC whom she called “traitors and dissidents who were given everything they could ever ask for, and then turned their backs” on Quiboloy.
To die for
From Quiboloy’s pulpit, Rillon repeatedly spoke of faithfulness, dedication, commitment, obedience, and loyalty to Quiboloy like a military code, and threatened the pastor’s accusers with judgment and hellfire.
She hailed the preacher as faultless and the “most spiritual man” who supposedly cannot be judged by anyone – “not even (by) that powerful nation that has been called the land of milk and honey.”
“You think you are the most powerful people in the world? You are absolutely wrong…. Bisan asa ta mag-abot. (We will face you anywhere)…. You are judged by the Almighty Father,” Rillon said.
Rillon said her church “is not mandated by any strong nation,” and KOJC members would serve as “the true walls of the kingdom.”
She said she would be “forever loyal” to Quiboloy, and that she and other KOJC members were ready to face the odds no matter what.
Rillon assured Quiboloy: “Kami na pod ang manalipod, ang modepensa ‘nimo, pastor (It’s our turn to protect and defend you, pastor). Ayaw kabalaka, sir (Don’t worry, sir)…even if it will cost my life, I will stand and defend.”
The pastor from Davao City, along with several of his church associates, has been charged with running a sex trafficking operation by Los Angeles-based prosecutors based on allegations of exploitation and sexual abuse made by former KOJC workers.
The preacher’s followers took the US federal prosecutors’ November 18 announcement of Quiboloy’s indictment as oppression and injustice, while the embattled minister warned those “maligning” him and his church of judgment day.
He preached for over an hour on Sunday, making a fantastic claim that the newly-detected COVID-19 Omicron variant was God’s punishment, and the “world” can expect worse during the pandemic unless it stopped “persecuting” and “prosecuting” him and his church.
The preacher, emotional, told his followers, “Look at what they’re doing to us.”
Quiboloy said the pandemic was a form of divine judgment on the wicked for putting him on the spot, and the global health crisis would be unstoppable until God is satisfied.
“Touch not my anointed; touch not my prophets,” he said, rephrasing an Old Testament passage. “World, if you want the pandemic to stop, stop persecuting and maligning the appointed son of God. Otherwise, this will not end and will become worse. World, listen to my voice!”
The new variant was first detected in South Africa from a specimen collected on November 9, nine days before the announcement of Quiboloy’s indictment in the US.
After the Omicron variant, Quiboloy warned of flesh-eating bacteria which, he said, would turn people around the world like the walking dead.
He also claimed to have the power to command angels to take his accusers’ lives, but he was supposedly still holding back.
“World, listen to me! The Day of the Lord is here!” he said at the top of his voice. “The only salvation is through the appointed son of God! Stop persecuting, prosecuting, and maligning the appointed Son of God! Judgment is inescapable.”
Fuming, Rillon addressed Quiboloy’s former “pastorals” during the church service: “How dare you! Shame on you! You are a disgrace to the kingdom of the Almighty Father!”
But as she ranted and attempted to discredit them, Rillon unwittingly made public a damning disclosure about what took place in the KOJC for some time before the former “pastorals” severed their ties with the Quiboloy church.
Rillon said Quiboloy’s accusers served the KOJC “for a couple of decades” while being “very carnal ever since.”
“We know all your dirt here. All the fleshly accusations against the son, kamo na (it’s you). Inyo kanang binuhatan (These are exactly the things that you did),” she said.
Rillon called her former fellow church workers ingrates who turned against the KOJC and their leader “with just one whisper of the devil.”
She said Quiboloy’s former “pastorals” committed “fleshly sins” while serving in the KOJC for years, and then chose to leave the church instead of feeling remorse and changing their ways based on their moral code.
Without elaborating, Rillon said she, too, failed the “son” several times and sinned, but she never gave up.
“I submitted to discipline and corrections,” she said.
Rillon did not elaborate on KOJC’s methods of discipline, but there have been allegations that the group has been subjecting “erring” church workers to corporal punishment and public shaming.
US federal prosecutors said Quiboloy and his associates brought young women and even children as young as 12 to the US using fraudulently obtained visas and made them solicit donations for a bogus charity.
The prosecutors also said the former church workers were made to do household chores, give massages, and perform “night duty” for Quiboloy’s sexual gratification under the threat of harm and “eternal damnation.”
‘Rewards, fire, and blessing’
Quiboloy, too, called his accusers “treacherous people” and described what he and his church were going through as passing through the “biggest fire.”
For his followers and church workers who stayed, and who remained loyal and committed, the preacher promised rewards: their names were supposedly written in the “book of life,” pronto, and “brightly shining mansions” were built and “named after them” in the afterlife.
He told his cheering audience that he received a divine revelation after the November 18 announcement of his indictment: “You have reached your final reward.”
“The test of fire is a blessing for all of us,” Quiboloy told his followers. – Rappler.com