Apollo Quiboloy

[Rappler Investigates] The guns of Apollo Quiboloy

Chay F. Hofileña

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[Rappler Investigates] The guns of Apollo Quiboloy

Raffy de Guzman/Rappler

'Why would the son of God need multi-million-peso worth of firearms, you’d wonder. Isn’t supposed divinity a sufficient protective shield from worldly harm and dangers?'

The solitude and relative quiet of Holy Week is over and we’re back to the daily grind of toiling, surviving, or simply living life joyously and peacefully. For many journalists, the Holy Week equates to catching up with domestic chores, reuniting with family, and yes, taking advantage of the chance to work on backlogs and long overdue stories that require more digging and diligent work. Little rest, but efforts do pay off.

We published on Wednesday, April 3, another Rappler exclusive on Davao’s preacher-in-hiding Apollo Quiboloy. (READ: A peek into Apollo Quiboloy’s expensive gun collection) Written by lead researcher Jodesz Gavilan, the story is based on documents which certify that the information we obtained does “exist in FEO records,” referring to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Firearms and Explosives Office.

Jodesz’s major discovery? The self-appointed “Son of God,” also the leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, has in his arsenal at least 19 firearms worth about P2.4 million. Why would the son of God need multi-million-peso worth of firearms, you’d wonder. Isn’t supposed divinity a sufficient protective shield from worldly harm and dangers? I guess not. Or maybe this son of God just has a fondness for expensive toys – pistols that cost as much as P750,000 each.

Sociologist of religion Jayeel Cornelio explained the need to own guns, telling Jodesz that the “working assumption is that there is an imminent threat for which gun ownership is necessary.”

If you recall, we published a series of stories about the guns owned by members of the Duterte family, too. Sure, there are gun collectors who are responsible and law-abiding that’s why they own licensed guns, as do the Dutertes. Still, ordinary citizens are hard put to explain the good behind this expensive hobby that entails ownership of weapons that can kill. Marksmanship may be an impressive skill but if misguided, misdirected, or misused, it can be easily transformed to violence.

Quiboloy and his guns are reminiscent of the late Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church in the US whose followers were called the Moonies. Moon’s son, Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, now leads the Rod of Iron Ministries, a group that, according to a 2021 Vice News story, worships with AR-15s (ArmaLite rifles) because this aligns with a biblical passage in the book of Revelation about a so-called “rod of iron” used by Jesus to protect himself and others. The biblical passage says, “He will rule them with an iron rod. Like clay vessels will they be smashed.” Moon took this literally to mean a reference to AR-15s. 

Who knows if Apollo Quiboloy looked to the descendants of the Moonies for divine inspiration? What is clear is that he has accumulated an abundance of wealth to purchase expensive firearms and luxurious properties here and abroad – from Canada to the US mainland, on top of properties in Las Vegas and Hawaii

The fugitive pastor continues to evade arrest warrants issued by the Senate and a regional trial court in the Davao region. He is sure to resist, too, a looming extradition request by the US after being put on the FBI’s most wanted list in 2022. (READ: Does Apollo Quiboloy have a choice not to appear before the Senate?)

PREGNANT MOTHERS IN PRISON. If only Quiboloy donated even just half of his kingdom’s riches to the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong, he would have been able to bring more than a slice of heaven to the 3,100 women incarcerated in the facility meant to house only a thousand.

Michelle Abad’s latest stories detail how difficult it is, if not impossible, for pregnant persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) not to part with their babies after they give birth. How can mother and infant subsist on just P85 a day for food and medicine, not to mention inadequate medical staff to tend to them? At CIW, there is only one resident doctor and 13 nurses to look after the 3,000-plus incarcerated women.

We are far from the standards set by the Bangkok Rules that give a premium to the proper treatment of female prisoners and pregnant PDLs. We are nowhere near Malaysia, for instance, where a child below three years of age can be with his or her mother while enjoying basic necessities. (READ: Behind bars, giving a mother’s touch isn’t easy)

PRESIDENTIAL INDECISION? Over at the PNP, not a few were caught by surprise when President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed Lieutenant General Emmanuel Peralta to an extremely short-lived post of officer-in-charge. He was PNP chief for less than a day after the retirement of Benjamin Acorda Jr. and was replaced by Police General Rommel Francisco Marbil.

Marcos’ third PNP chief, Marbil will be in office only until February 7, 2025 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Is it coincidence that Marbil has ties to Speaker Martin Romualdez, the President’s cousin? The new PNP chief once served as regional director of Eastern Visayas, territory of the House leader, and belongs to the same Philippine Military Academy Sambisig Class of 1991 that adopted Romualdez as its own honorary member.

If there have been no meaningful institutional changes at the PNP of late, we can easily surmise why. It’s because no one stays long enough as PNP chief to leave a lasting mark – they’re all just passers-by. – Rappler.com

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Chay F. Hofileña

Chay Hofileña is editor of Rappler's investigative and in-depth section, Newsbreak. Among Rappler’s senior founders and editors, she is also in charge of training. She obtained her graduate degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism in New York.