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FACT CHECK: No SC order stopping Senate probe into Quiboloy activities


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FACT CHECK: No SC order stopping Senate probe into Quiboloy activities
The Supreme Court, as a separate branch of government, has not been involved in the ongoing legislative hearings on embattled pastor Apollo Quiboloy

Claim: The Supreme Court (SC) suspended the ongoing Senate inquiry on the alleged abuses committed by the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) led by Davao-based preacher and Duterte ally Apollo Quiboloy.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: Multiple videos targeting Senator Risa Hontiveros, the opposition senator leading the investigation in the upper chamber, have been uploaded by the YouTube channel SAGAM TV with 178,000 subscribers.

On February 26, the channel uploaded a video with the title, “Hontivirus sumusobra na! Pinatahimik na ni Quiboloy! Korte Suprema umaksyon laban kay Hontivirus! (Hontivirus Is getting out of hand! Quiboloy has silenced her! Supreme Court takes action against Hontivirus!). As of writing, it has reached 40,625 views, 1,800 likes, and 274 comments.

The moniker “Hontivirus” has been used by pro-Duterte bloggers to refer to Hontiveros, as shown by the inclusion of the senator’s image in the video thumbnail.

Of the 23 videos released by the channel from February 25 to 29, about 13 are linked to Hontiveros and Quiboloy. Some of these videos allege that the senator has paid witnesses and released a shoot-to-kill order for the embattled pastor.

The facts: The Supreme Court, as a separate and co-equal branch of government, has not been involved in the current investigations of the Senate on the alleged human rights abuses of KOJC and its media arm, Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

The Court has just been mentioned once in relation to the Senate committee hearing during a radio interview with lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, Quiboloy’s counsel, on February 26.

“Our Senate, particularly Senator Hontiveros, should already learn to listen to the pronouncements of our Supreme Court and not continue to abuse their power,” he said in Filipino.

Topacio was referring to a 2023 SC ruling on the Senate blue ribbon committee’s “grave abuse of discretion” over its contempt and arrest order against its resource persons during the 2021 Pharmally hearings.

Meanwhile, in January, SMNI media workers went to the Supreme Court to challenge the National Telecommunications Commission’s cease and desist order suspending the network’s operations indefinitely.

Aside from these developments, the Court has not been brought up in the ongoing probes into Quiboloy and his affiliates.

Unrelated: The video does not provide evidence for its claim, instead reviving a repeatedly debunked claim that Hontiveros was named in a 2022 SC ruling on anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), where Hontiveros previously served as a board member. 

Human rights abuses: As head of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality, Hontiveros has led the hearings on allegations of human trafficking, sexual abuse, and violence supposedly committed by Quiboloy and KOJC.

One of the witnesses, “Rene,” alleged that he was sexually abused by male staff with the preacher’s approval and that he was forced to work as a researcher at SMNI without pay. He also claimed to have seen former president Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Sara Duterte receiving various firearms from Quiboloy.

The Senate panel has issued a subpoena to Quiboloy after he snubbed three of its hearings since January. Hontiveros has warned that she would hold Quiboloy in contempt and order him arrested unless he attends the next hearing on March 5.

The pastor, who styles himself as the “appointed son of God,” remains defiant and in hiding as he claims that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has a kill order for him and his church leaders. In response, Marcos advised Quiboloy to come out of hiding and face the allegations against him in Congress. – Rappler.com

Lance Arevada is a campus journalist at the Ateneo de Manila University. The managing editor of Matanglawin Ateneo, he is also an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow of Rappler for 2023-2024.

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