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CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – For about three weeks, “Jerome” said his genitals felt like they were set on fire after being rubbed with wild chili, allegedly on orders from Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) and self-styled “appointed son of God.”
He was punished for going on a movie date with his girlfriend, despite her not being a member of the KOJC.
Quiboloy’s KOJC strictly prohibits church workers from closely associating with non-believers, a detail revealed during a Senate committee investigation into the alleged abuses within the Davao-based religious group on Tuesday, January 23.
In the KOJC, full-time workers, except for a privileged few, are allegedly prohibited from making contact with their relatives, friends, and acquaintances, who have a different religion. Breaches carry corresponding punishments.
Jerome, one of four ex-followers who testified against Quibolloy, told the committee that there were about a dozen people subjected to fraternity hazing-like punishments for breaching all sorts of rules set by their pastor in 2009.
He recalled that Pastor Quiboloy summoned them and made them line up while speaking over the phone linked to an audio system, calling them demons and other names, and allegedly ordering them to undergo corporal punishment, including having chili rubbed on their genitals.
Jerome alleged that Quiboloy gave the command while he was in the United States in 2009.
After that, he said they were then taken to an isolation room with poor ventilation and held there for two days before KOJC ministers returned with an armed group, made them sign waivers, and proceeded to carry out Quiboloy’s orders.
During the punishment, Jerome alleged that they were made to bang their heads against the wall and punch it until they bled, while their genitals and eyes were rubbed with chili.
The former KOJC member said the situation was so difficult that one of those with him remarked, “Akala ko langit ito, yun pala impyerno.” (I thought this was heaven, but it turned out to be hell.)
“It felt at that time that I was going to die and that I was going to go blind,” Jerome said in Filipino.
He said they were then made to rest by the ministers for a week before they were taken to another Quiboloy property in Makati to work on a demolition project, from where he and another co-worker subsequently escaped while armed guards were asleep.
Exploited as a child
Jerome’s parents converted to Quiboloy’s group in 2000. Two years later, he was already a part-time KOJC worker at 12, engaging in street-level selling of rice cakes and milk candies to raise funds for the group.
He went full-time in 2004 and was sent to Metro Manila where he and a group continued their fundraising activities, including solicitations, in malls, buses, jeepneys, and on the streets throughout Luzon.
Jerome said they used fake IDs to represent fraudulent charity organizations intended to deceive people into shelling out money for charity. All the funds, he said, were remitted to Quiboloy’s group.
These activities have allegedly been taking place not only in the Philippines but also as far as the US, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brazil, and other countries where Quiboloy has followers.
In late 2021, several ex-members of the KOJC told Rappler about the street-level solicitations carried out by Quiboloy’s followers abroad.
A former member who once led a fundraising activity in Singapore said they routinely sought donations the entire day, carrying collection cans.
She claimed that all the funds raised by KOJC groups were sent back to Quiboloy’s organization in the Philippines. To evade the scrutiny of Singapore’s fiscal authorities, she alleged that the money was divided into smaller batches. – Rappler.com