Apollo Quiboloy

[Rappler’s Best] The elusive big fish – and big fishers

Glenda M. Gloria

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[Rappler’s Best] The elusive big fish – and big fishers

Nico Villarete/Rappler

'It’s been a holiday, too, for one big fish that refuses to yield to the law, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the self-proclaimed appointed son of God'

A happy (broken) long weekend to you! 

Tomorrow, April 9, is the Day of Valor, which commemorates April 9, 1942, when thousands of Filipino and American soldiers were forced to march to their surrender – and death – by the occupying Japanese forces. If you have not visited it, perhaps it’s time to see the Mt. Samat National Shrine in Pilar, Bataan, site of the fiercest battles fought with the Japanese. Here are nine facts you need to know about the Day of Valor.

On Wednesday, April 10, Ramadan comes to an end, as Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the breaking of their month-long fast. It’s one of the two most important Islamic feasts; read more about it here.

It’s been a holiday, too, for one big fish that refuses to yield to the law, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the self-proclaimed appointed son of God. On Saturday, April 6, he finally broke his silence but on his own terms: His 33-minute audio monologue was pre-recorded and played in his own Sonshine Media YouTube channel, a one-way traffic of bombast and melodrama that could not be questioned because he was essentially preaching to himself and to his crowd. “I will not be caught alive,” he declared.

Some of his followers did. Two of his close associates surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation in Davao City on April 4. Before this, another two surrendered while two others were arrested

The alleged sex offender and his cohorts are the subject of two arrest warrants and a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe in the US. Quiboloy continues to cry state and American harassment, but Rappler Thought Leader Vergel Santos is aghast at the assertion that he and his network are covered by press freedom. “It’s an outrageous and insulting insinuation no self-respecting journalist can let pass undisputed. Imagine being lumped with Quiboloy and his fake press! Indeed to claim that SMNI is press and Quiboloy a member of the press fraternity is to misrepresent their statures untenably, ludicrously,” wrote Santos in this piece.

Speaking of big fish. Rappler’s Lian Buan and Iya Gozum put a spotlight on a little-known reality: that well-connected fishing companies continue to fight regulation that would disallow their unfettered commerce at sea. Their two-part investigation uncovered the following: 

  • Government agencies have been trying hard to implement a tracking system for commercial vessels aimed at preventing “illegal, unreported, and unregulated” (IUU) fishing.
  • The National Telecommunications Commission has been singled out as one agency that hampered such efforts, allowing big fishing companies to evade the tracking system.
  • The big fishers’ next battleground is obtaining the right to encroach on municipal waters, where small fisherfolks have access.
  • A 2021 report of the US Agency for International Development and the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources showed that the country was losing at least $1.2 billion annually to IUU fishing. How big of a problem is this? Watch this video.
  • In 2019, the government introduced a new fisheries management framework to curb IUU. It was off to a rocky start, as this story shows.

Is there hope especially for small fisherfolks and their communities? As long as we shine the light on them – and get to deep dive into their concerns. Rappler reporters Iya Gozum and Michelle Abad visited fishing towns in Northern Samar; here’s their story. – Rappler.com

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Glenda M. Gloria

Glenda Gloria co-founded Rappler in July 2011 and is currently its executive editor.