Apollo Quiboloy

[Vantage Point] The ‘untouchable’ Quiboloy

Val A. Villanueva

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

[Vantage Point] The ‘untouchable’ Quiboloy
Quiboloy’s case is a litmus test for the Marcos government

Will self-proclaimed “Son of God” Apollo Quiboloy violently resist if and when the Senate serves its arrest order against the flamboyant cult leader? 

On March 20, the upper chamber finally decided to cite the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) leader for contempt after snubbing the Senate investigation into his alleged predatory sexual exploits.

The arrest order was signed by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality. The Senate was probing assertions of years of exploitation and abuse perpetuated against former KOJC workers by preacher Quiboloy and his associates.

In a parallel move, the Department of Justice (DOJ) also ordered the filing of cases of child abuse and human trafficking against Quiboloy and five of his associates. Many are speculating that the DOJ move could be related to the extradition of the cult leader to the United States where he is on the most-wanted list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In November 2021, a superseding federal indictment in the Central District of California was unsealed, charging Quiboloy and two church administrators with conspiring in a sex trafficking operation between 2002 and 2018, where girls and women, aged between 12 and 25, were recruited to work as the pastor’s personal assistants.

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It is a fair question to ask if Quiboloy would go quietly. Quiboloy’s lair in Davao is suspected of harboring several munitions, some of which are believed to be carried locked and loaded by his loyal servants. In fact, a witness, alias “Rene,” alleged during the Senate investigation that Vice President (VP) and Education Secretary Sara and her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, had left Quiboloy’s vast property in Davao City with bags of assorted firearms.

The VP did not confirm nor deny the allegation. But several witnesses saw them leaving the Glory Mountain with bags of guns. Quiboloy’s mountain den is a vast property nestling on the ramps of Mount Apo, in Barangay Tamayo in Davao City’s Calinan District. Ms. Duterte could only say that all these allegations are politically motivated.

Cause for concern

On June 20, 2002,  at least 23 people died during a night fraught with violence as policemen and soldiers were to serve the arrest warrant to the late Ruben Ecleo Jr., who, just like Quiboloy, was politically well-connected. Ecleo was the leader of the cultist group Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA).

A joint team of Philippine National Police (PNP) and soldiers of the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion – with air support from two MG-520 helicopters – were met with bullets when they tried to serve Ecleo a warrant of arrest for the murder of his wife, fourth-year medical student Alona Bacolod Ecleo, in Cebu City on January 6, 2002. Ecleo finally surrendered after a night of blood shedding, but eventually jumped bail while he was on trial. He had been on the run with a P2-million bounty on his head since 2011 and was finally re-arrested on July 2020. He died from various heart complications on April 25, 2021, while serving prison time.

Quiboloy has many sympathizers, among them, the Duterte father and daughter, on whom the pastor is said to be leaning to bolster his innocence. These die-hard supporters have in fact participated in organized prayer rallies in support of Quiboloy, along with the Dutertes and some cabinet secretaries of the former president. Recent rallies for the embattled cult leader turned into anti-Marcos Jr. assemblies, where chants calling for the resignation of the President loudly rang out. 

It is from this base support that Quiboloy draws his confidence and belief that he is untouchable. Quiboloy’s case, from my Vantage Point, is also a litmus test for the government. Would the Marcos Jr. administration really execute its lawful duty to hale Quiboloy into court?

How could President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. allow his VP to lend her presence to a crowd that her father was agitating to clamor for his ouster? One of the reasons former VP Leni Robredo was fired from her post as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) was that then President Rodrigo Duterte suspected her of conniving with the opposition in undermining his administration.

A reader wrote that she is perplexed as to why Ms. Duterte issued a statement during Women’s Month no less that she is supporting Quiboloy who is allegedly a rapist. “Wasn’t she a victim of rape too?” 

When presidential candidate Duterte was onstage at a campaign rally for the 2016 elections, he narrated a rape incident about Australian lay missioner Jacqueline who was also killed during the 1989 hostage-taking at the Davao Penal Colony. Duterte said  he felt angry because it was a waste that, as then city mayor, he should have been “first in line” when Hamill was raped because “she was as beautiful as an American actress.” The former president said later that he was just joking. 

In her Instagram account, VP Sara posted that she was not offended by her father’s comments about Hamill, although she claimed that she too was a rape victim: “Not a joke. I am a rape victim … I am just saying I went through it and I do not feel offended by the rape joke. I do not want to talk about the details of my experience. It is embarrassing.” 

Mr. Duterte later dismissed his daughter’s confession by describing her as a drama queen: “She can’t be raped – she carries a gun.”

The unholy alliance

Since the Dutertes look like they are twisting themselves into a pretzel in defending Quiboloy, some people suspect that they are doing so because they expect something big in return.

Is it the promise of block votes from Pastor Quiboloy who claims to have millions of devoted followers? Pray tell, the size of Quiboloy’s congregation, notwithstanding his claims, is not even a fraction of that of, say, the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Political pundits believe that it is not for the votes. The flighty Ms. Duterte, they say, is executing a calculated political move for the most ignoble reason. It could be for the protection of the family’s political war chest. She needs billions of pesos to finance her coming campaign for the presidency.

The compelling motivation is dark money. While other politicians can expect only crumbs, the father and daughter may get the lion’s share of the KOJC’s wealth. 

Mr. Duterte’s appointment, announced by Quiboloy himself, as caretaker of the vast religious empire, does nothing to dispel that suspicion. He actually owns, people believe, houses in the US and Canada, found to have been registered in the names of KOJC operatives in those countries. The real estate properties cost millions of dollars each.

However much Quiboloy squeezes them, his members can only deliver so much by way of tithing. Most of them are dirt-poor, living on the fringes of society.

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To finance his lavish lifestyle (with a jet plane and a fleet of helicopters and luxury cars), the pastor sends out an army of brainwashed young men and women every day in Metro Manila, with instructions to sell rice cakes, ballpoint pens, and other knickknacks and pretend they are poor students trying to earn tuition money. In spite of their best efforts, however, they could only make a few hundred pesos each to remit to their handlers.

He deploys members to major cities in the US and Canada to beg for alms, supposedly to benefit calamity victims in the Philippines. They are brought there carrying religious visas, for which Quiboloy and his associates have been charged with fraud, among other offenses, by the FBI.

Communist bogeyman

The Dutertes did not hesitate at raising the communist bogeyman in an effort to get Congress to appropriate billions, even trillions, of pesos that they to date have not been accounted for. 

As it has now become apparent, the P125 million that President Marcos Jr. granted to Ms. Duterte before the Uniteam unraveled was spent in just 11 days is only the tip of the iceberg. The amount is “loose change,” compared to what she felt she was entitled to. VP Sara wanted Congress to allocate P100 billion and put that money at her disposal.

Unfortunately for Ms. Duterte and Mr. Duterte, Quiboloy’s religious empire is collapsing under its own weight. Just recently, District Judge Terry Hatter Jr. of California ordered that the warrants against KOJC founder Quiboloy unsealed. That, according to legal observers, is the first step towards the filing of a request for the extradition of Quiboloy from the Philippines to the United States.

Coming on the heels of that development was the announcement made by the Pasig Prosecutors Office that it had approved a resolution charging the self-proclaimed messiah with human trafficking and child abuse. No bail was recommended, which means the accused will have to stay in the hot, overcrowded, vermin infested city jail pending resolution of the cases. Give Quiboloy a few days in that hellhole, and he’ll long for the comfort of a California detention facility, into which the FBI or the US Marshal plans to consign him after his extradition.

The man flatters himself when he claims the Central Intelligence Agency is preparing to subject him to the infamous rendition process. Under the arrangement, the US deep state, as it is called, subjected to waterboarding and other forms of torture suspected terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to extract information from them regarding the whereabouts of Usama bin Ladin, the Al-Queda leader who planned the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

Why Guantanamo Bay? A writ of habeas corpus, which compels authorities to bring a prisoner before the court to determine the legality of his detention, cannot be enforced there, which is beyond the reach of the US judicial system.

It’s funny because Quiboloy does not have the guts and the smarts required of a terrorist. He is wanted by the FBI for the common but very serious crimes of rape of minors, human trafficking, and cash bulk smuggling, in addition to the aforementioned fraud charges. The CIA, the US spy organization ranged against the Russian Federation’s KGB, is not interested in a common criminal like him. It has bigger fish to fry. – Rappler.com

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  1. ET

    I agree: “Quiboloy’s case is a litmus test for the Marcos government.” It is a test of President Marcos Jr.’s concern about Quiboloy’s victims, and the latter’s still unaware, denying, or brainwashed members (except its officers). In the background, this is a contest of who has the better political savvy: President Marcos Jr. or Former President Digong Duterte. President Marcos Jr. should not underestimate the significance of this contest because it will directly affect the chances of his cousin Martin’s quest for the Presidency in the 2028 national elections.

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