Controversial Davao-based Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, unperturbed by sex trafficking charges in the US, has red-tagged presidential aspirants Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and members of the Makabayan bloc.
Quiboloy called them "communist lovers," and the lawmakers' group as "Kamatayan Bloc."
In the program Powerline, aired Wednesday, November 24, on his Sonshine Media Network, the pastor alleged that the politicians forged alliances with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Echoing lines of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Quiboloy also challenged the Makabayan bloc to condemn the "human rights violations" committed by the New People's Army (NPA).
Quiboloy made the allegations during a 12-minute reaction to one of his viewers, one Isidro Flores, who said his group would campaign against Robredo in his town in Matanao, Davao del Sur, because of her alleged ties with the Maoist insurgency.
Quiboloy claimed that the NPA once killed a father of one of his church members "for no reason." He criticized the NPA rebels for exacting their own version of justice through a "kangaroo court."
Quiboloy previously criticized Robredo's position backing the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC, a government body which the controversial preacher praised for its anti-communist work.
Aside from the Vice President, lawmakers, and various groups, ecumenical leaders have also criticized the NTF-ELCAC “for sowing hatred and violence instead of a culture of dialogue and peace to resolve the more than five decades of insurgency in the country.”
Robredo's spokesman, Barry Gutierrez, said Quiboloy's accusations is nothing but a "complete lie."
"In case it still needs to be said, this is a complete lie. Pastor Quiboloy is fabricating stories from thin air. Instead of making up these wild claims, he should probably just focus on dealing with the child sex trafficking charges that have been brought against him," he said.
Moreno, who was previously red-tagged on social media, was part of the government delegation to observe the peace talks between the government and the NDF during the first years of the Duterte administration.
He has denied previous allegations that he is a communist or is pro-communism.
“Straightforward, I am no communist. I do not believe in communism, I believe in democracy,” he said in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum on October 12.
“I don’t like terrorists, I condemn terrorism. I don’t believe in communism,” he said then.
Photos of Moreno with CPP leaders like Jose Maria Sison were taken during peace negotiations conducted with the Philippine government in which the Manila mayor played the role of observer.
Moreno said he participated in peace talks in Norway, Rome, and the Netherlands upon the invitation of the Duterte government. The meetings included government officials, aside from communist leaders.
General Santos Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr., Pacquiao's legal adviser in Soccsksargen and a stalwart of the senator's People's Champ Movement (PCM), said allegations made by anyone who claims to be a deity should not be taken seriously.
"He is merely creating outlandish stories again to divert attention from his sex trafficking case in the US," Gacal told Rappler.
Pacquaio has endorsed Makabayan bloc senatorial candidates like lawyer Neri Colmenares and labor leader Elmer Labog.
The Makabayan bloc has been repeatedly accused of being a legal front of the CPP-National Democratic Front.
Bayan Muna, which is part of the Makabayan bloc, called Quiboloy's tirades as "reckless and baseless red-tagging" meant as a diversionary move.
House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Isagani Zarate and fellow Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat said the pastor concocted the allegations "only to divert the people's attention away from his ungodly activities."
Zarate said he saw similarities between Quiboloy and his close friend President Rodrigo Duterte: both have a tendency to veer away from issues confronting them by smearing critics.
"Just like President Duterte, who, when criticized on the spate of extrajudicial killings or his servile policy on China, red tags and rants against Bayan Muna and the Makabayan bloc as well as other critics, his so-called spiritual adviser Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy also engages in similar redtagging of his perceived critics as a way to also divert attention and serve as a smokescreen for his own anomalies," Zarate said.
He said the Makabayan bloc's legislative record in the past 20 years in Congress will speak for itself especially on how they have been advancing and defending just causes of marginalized sectors.
Cullamat, for her part, called Quiboloy a "hypocrite."
"Nowadays, our people should be wary of false prophets wearing sheep's clothes but are actually ravening wolves. We did not impose heretical, even hypocritical, beliefs like ownership of the universe or activities like 'night duties' on minors and neither did we threaten them with eternal damnation if they refused advances," Cullamat said. – with reports from Herbie Gomez, Rommel Rebollido, Pia Ranada, and Mara Cepeda