Apollo Quiboloy

[Vantage Point] Beware of false prophets: A cautionary examination

Val A. Villanueva

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

[Vantage Point] Beware of false prophets: A cautionary examination
Only through critical thinking, moral courage, and a steadfast commitment to truth can we safeguard ourselves and our communities from their pernicious influence and delusion

Pastor Apollo Carreon Quiboloy’s cult is a powerful voting bloc. Much like those who kowtow to the Iglesia ni Cristo, politicians bow to Quiboloy to seek voting favors for a substantial edge in an election.

Here’s Senator Robin Padilla:

“Para sa akin nagiging biktima si Pastor kasi nilabanan nya yong NPA. Nasaan ang utang na loob natin sa serbisyo ng taong ito. Hindi deserve sa mata ko na ang isang taong sa tingin ko ay bayani sa pakikipaglaban nya sa komnista, na kasama ako, eh, ganitong klase papayagan ko na maiskandalo. Teka muna.” (“For me, Pastor becomes a victim because he fought the NPA. Where is our debt of gratitude to this man’s service? It is not worthy in my eyes that a person who I think is a hero in his fight against the communists, with me, eh, this kind of thing I will allow to be scandalized. Wait first.”)

It is embarrassing to listen to a senator of the republic talking in disjointed sentences, and in his mother tongue of Filipino at that. In any case, what the 54-year-old senator is trying to say is that 73-year-old Quiboloy is a victim because he fought the New People’s Army (NPA). The NPA is the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

We haven’t really gotten over the scandal perpetuated by another cult leader, Jey Rence Quilario, also known as “Senior Agila”, the leader of the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI). After a lengthy Senate probe, the National Bureau of Investigation on November 7, 2023, arrested Quilario and 12 other SBSI members on suspicion of sexually abusing children and leading a cult. The cult is accused of sexually enslaving children in a remote area in Surigao del Norte.

Quiboloy, founder of the Philippines-based Restorationist church called the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) and self-appointed Son of God, couldn’t care less about the communist rebels. Even if he did fight them, there is no correlation between his alleged victimization and his political belief. Padilla is also trying to convey the idea that the billionaire-preacher is a hero, like the senator himself (as he interjects), and that people should not drag his name in the scandal. 

Wanted in the US

Well, the issue is no mere scandalous gossip. There are two grave accusations against Quiboloy: alleged rape of minors and exploitation of his so-called “spiritual workers” by subjecting them to street begging in the Philippines and abroad, particularly in the US and Canada, to support his lavish lifestyle (such as, owning a private jet and helicopters, a fleet of luxury vehicles, and a mansion fit for a Middle Eastern emir).

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For these reasons the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, chaired by Senator Risa Hontiveros, has invited the preacher to explain his side and, when he failed to appear on the appointed date, cited him for contempt and issued a warrant of arrest against him. Quiboloy is reportedly asking the Senate for conditions before he appears in the probe which Hontiveros has shut down.

But the Senate investigation could become moot and academic. A district court judge in California, Terry Hatter Jr., recently unsealed at the request of the US Attorney in that State the arrest warrants against Quiboloy and his co-accused.

Quiboloy is facing charges in the US for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of children by force, fraud, coercion, and bulk cash smuggling. He is in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Most Wanted list.

According to legal observers, the unsealing of the arrest order is the first step leading to the extradition of the accused from the Philippines to the US.

Unlike the International Criminal Court, whose jurisdiction in the Philippines is being questioned by former President Rodrigo Duterte, et al, the extradition treaty between the US and the Philippines is straightforward and not subject to interpretation.

The Philippines is duty-bound to extradite Quiboloy, as it did in the case of then-congressman Mark Jimenez, whose charges were not as serious as Quiboloy’s. The latter was picked up by agents of the FBI and brought to the US to stand trial for a lesser offense of campaign contribution violation and serve his sentence there.

Quiboloy is facing capital offenses that could land him in jail for a long, long time.

It is not only Padilla who is trying to shield Quiboloy from the Senate investigation. He is joined by a like-minded senator, Cynthia Villar, who is also clueless about government procedures and bereft of the concept of fairness and justice. Most people watching the Senate proceedings find the female senator’s pronouncements and behavior unacceptable.

Explaining her signature in the proposed resolution recalling the arrest warrant, the Villar matriarch states:

“Kaibigan ko si Pastor Quiboloy. Malapit sya sa aking pamilya, at natataka ako dyan sa kaso na yan, kaya medyo hindi ano naniniwala sa kaso na yan. Kilala ko sya personally at nakakahiya naman na ako, eh, ipapahuli ko sya. Dyos ko.” [“I know Pastor Quibooloy. He is close to my family, which is why I am surprised about that case, and I don’t believe it. I know him personally, and it would be shameful if I ordered his arrest. My God.”]

Ah, so for Villar, the reason is personal. Quiboloy is a family friend and it would be a shame to send a “good friend” to jail. Never mind that he may have victims – they could all go to hell. It is the same sentiment Padilla expresses, who says the pastor lent a helicopter for his use during the senatorial campaign.

Two other senators are trying to foil Senator Hontiveros’s efforts: Senators Christopher Lawrence Go and Imee Marcos. Padilla also identified Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito as a Quiboloy ally, but the latter has been reported to have withdrawn his signature later in the same day he signed the petition.

These Quiboloy supporters in the Senate are not guilty of hypocrisy, as some people might think, but cynicism of the most brazen kind. A hypocrite, repulsive as he may be, is at least paying homage to virtue, which is why he is offering an imitation to that very virtue as an alternative.

The cynic, on the other hand, does not hide his admiration for the evildoer and his contempt for the victims. What is important to him is the profit made and the advantage gained in the transaction.

False prophets

There are many passages in the Bible about false prophets, but this one from the New Testament, 2 Peter 2:1-3 is my favorite: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

Throughout history, societies have been captivated by charismatic leaders who claim to possess divine insights or extraordinary powers. They wield significant influence over their followers, shaping beliefs, modifying behaviors, and sometimes affecting entire civilizations. Cloaked in charm and deception, they exploit the vulnerabilities of the human psyche for personal gain, leading their adherents astray. They are idolized over genuine spiritual leaders who do not have may not have their persuasive rhetoric and magnetic personality which these cult figures skillfully employ to create an illusion of authenticity, drawing  into their fold individuals seeking guidance or solace.

False prophet much like snake-oil salesmen, frequently peddle messages that appeal to the desires and fears of their audience. Whether promising wealth, salvation, or security, they exploit human vulnerabilities to manipulate emotions and foster dependency. By offering simplistic solutions to complex problems, they prey on the uncertainties and anxieties of their followers, promising deliverance in exchange for allegiance.

Blind belief

The consequences of cults ending in tragedies extend far beyond the immediate loss of life. These events shatter families, communities, and societies, leaving scars that endure for generations. They also provoke scrutiny and introspection regarding the regulation of religious and ideological groups, prompting questions about the balance between freedom of belief and the protection of vulnerable individuals.

It is a stark reminder of the dangers posed by unchecked fanaticism and the importance of vigilance in safeguarding against manipulation and coercion. By addressing the underlying factors that contribute to the rise of cults and implementing measures to protect vulnerable individuals, societies can strive to prevent such tragic outcomes in the future.

Several cult leaders in the United States have led their followers to tragic outcomes. Some of the most infamous ones include:

  • Jim Jones: He was the leader of the Peoples Temple, a cult that ended in tragedy with the mass suicide of over 900 of its members in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978. This event, known as the Jonestown Massacre, is one of the largest mass suicides in history.
  • David Koresh: Leader of the Branch Davidians, an offshoot of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Koresh led his followers in a standoff with federal agents at the Mount Carmel Center near Waco, Texas, in 1993. The confrontation ended in a deadly fire that killed Koresh and approximately 75 of his followers, including many children.
  • Marshall Applewhite: Co-founder of the Heaven’s Gate cult, Applewhite convinced 39 of his followers to commit suicide in 1997 in order to reach what they believed was an extraterrestrial spacecraft following the Comet Hale-Bopp.
  • Charles Manson: Although not a traditional cult leader, Manson led a group known as the Manson Family. He convinced his followers to commit a series of nine murders in the late 1960s, including the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969. Manson’s ability to manipulate his followers into committing acts of violence earned him notoriety.

These are just a few examples, but there have been several other cult leaders throughout history who have led their followers to tragic ends through manipulation, coercion, and extremism.

In a world fraught with uncertainty and complexity, the allure of false prophets persists as a perennial threat to the unsuspecting and vulnerable. By preying upon human frailties and exploiting the noble pursuit of spiritual truth, these charlatans sow discord and despair, leading their followers astray.

It behooves us, therefore, to remain vigilant and discerning, lest we fall prey to the seductive wiles of false prophets and forfeit our autonomy and integrity in the process. Only through critical thinking, moral courage, and a steadfast commitment to truth can we safeguard ourselves and our communities from the pernicious influence of deception and delusion. Hontiveros, therefore, should be lauded for her valiant efforts in exorcising us from this evil possession. – Rappler.com

1 comment

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  1. ET

    Yes, I agree that Filipinos should be vigilant, discerning, critical thinking, morally courageous and steadfastly committed to Truth. But how many Filipinos are like that? When confronted by Quiboloy’s religious version of the triumvirate of Corruption, Repression and Disinformation – those victims were easily swayed and many still remain as KOJC members (but perhaps not for long). Lastly, there are still other religions who uses the said religious triumvirate but are not as notorious and exploitative as Quiboloy’s KOJC.

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