Ex-Pres. Duterte, VP Sara received 'bags of guns' from Quiboloy, Senate witness claims

By HANA BORDEY,GMA Integrated News

A resource person testifying at the Senate inquiry into the alleged abuses of Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) leader Apollo Quiboloy on Monday claimed that former President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, had received "bags of guns" from the religious leader.

Testifying during the second hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, the witness, identified only as Alias "Rene," said he once worked as a landscaper for Quiboloy at Glory Mountain where he experienced firsthand the abuses.

"Ako po ay naging landscaper ni Quiboloy sa Glory Mountain at doon ko na po naranasan ang pananakit mismo sa kamay ni Quiboloy... Sa Glory Mountain, pag dumadating si Quiboloy sakay ng chopper, may dala po siya na malalaking bag na laman po ang iba-ibang uri ng baril at nilalatag po ito sa tent na katabi po ng mansyon niya," Rene, who was physically present at the Senate, said.

"Minsan po pumupunta doon din si former President Rodrigo Duterte at former Davao mayor Sara Duterte. Pag umaalis na sila doon sa Glory Mountain, dala na po nila yung mga bag na siya pong bag na nilalagyan po ng mga baril," he added.

(I was once a landscaper for Quiboloy at Glory Mountain where I experienced physical abuse from Quiboloy himself... In Glory Mountain, when Quiboloy arrived via chopper, he carried along with him big bags containing various guns and he would present them inside a tent beside his mansion. Sometimes former President Rodrigo Duterte and former Davao mayor Sara Duterte would go there. When they left Glory Mountain, they were carrying the same bags that contained the guns.)

Glory Mountain is located in Davao City and is known to be owned by Quiboloy.

GMA News Online has sought the comment of former President Duterte through his former executive secretary, Salvador Medialdea, and close ally Senator Bong Go, as well as Vice President Duterte, but they have yet to respond as of posting time.

Begging for alms

Rene started his testimony by sharing that KOJC was offering a "fake scholarship" to encourage the youth to join the religious organization.

He said after he joined "full-time" in the ministry, he was assigned to beg for alms on the streets, plazas, and restaurants, and given a P3,000 daily "quota."

"Kung hindi ko maabot ang aking goal ay papaluin at 'di ako papakainin... Pag ber months naman po, o mula September to December, ay mas puspusan ang aming pamamalimos. P1.5 million ang aking goal na kailangan makuha at maibigay kay Quiboloy sa loob ng apat na buwan. Kaya 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ako namamalimos, halos wala na pong pahinga at kain. Gumagamit kami ng mga fake charity para mas nakakaawa kami tingnan," he told the committee.

(If I didn't reach my quota then I would be harmed... From September to December we begged harder for alms to reach the P1.5 million goal that I should give to Quiboloy in four months. I worked from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. almost without rest and food. They use fake charity so we would look like legitimate beggars.)

Rene said he started to doubt KOJC when he became a youth leader tasked to recruit more young people to join the religious group and beg for alms.

"Noong nahalata nila na ako na ay may agam-agam, pinadala ako sa Central Headquarters sa Davao. Akala ko ay matutupad na ang pangako nila sa akin na papag-aralin sa Jose Maria College pero dinala lang pala ako sa Glory Mountain kung saan dito dinadala ang mga 'sanctioned workers' o yung hindi nakakakuha sa mga quota o kailangan ng pagwawasto," he said.

(When they noticed that I started having doubts, they sent me to Central Headquarters in Davao. I thought they would already honor their promise to send me to Jose Maria College to study but they instead brought me to Glory Mountain where sanctioned workers, or those who didn't reach the quota and needed to be disciplined, were sent.)

At the Glory Mountain, Rene said he experienced physical abuse from Quiboloy whenever the KOJC leader was not satisfied with their work as landscapers.

Sexual abuse

In 2020, Rene said he asked permission to go home because he suffered physical abuse from Quiboloy but he was not allowed to. Instead, he said he was assigned to become the personal assistant of a certain Jun Andrade, alleged to be one of the high-ranking officials of KOJC. It was during this time, he said, that he was sexually abused.

Rene said he raised the harassment with the KOJC Executive Secretary Eleanor Cardona, but instead of addressing the issue he was scolded and slapped.

He further said that in the middle of 2020, he was assigned as researcher at SMNI, which is run by the religious organization. While he was working at the news outlet, he said he was still required to beg for alms.

Because of the physical abuses that he suffered from a certain Tina San Pedro of SMNI, Rene said he decided to leave KOJC in 2021, but he was told by a certain Marlon Rosete, who was allegedly the CEO of the news outlet, not to speak about the religious organization, especially the events that occurred at the Glory Mountain.

Upon the questioning of Senator Risa Hontiveros, Rene also claimed that employees of SMNI were not given their regular salaries.

"Ang mga worker po doon sa SMNI is wala po kaming sahod monthly. Wala rin po kaming mga benefits. Binibigyan lang po kami ni Quiboloy ng may tinatawag na 'honorarium' na P200 to P300 pero depende pa rin po 'yun sa mood niya kung magbibigay siya o hindi," Rene said.


(SMNI workers do not receive monthly salaries. We also did not have benefits. Quiboloy would just give us something they call an 'honorarium' of P200 to P300 but he would or would not give this depending on his mood.

The said amount was given once a week, he added.

Department of Labor and Employment Undersecretary Felipe Egargo said this is considered "illegal" while Senior State Counsel Mary Grace Quintana explained that this is considered an act of human trafficking.

"Illegal po talaga ‘yan. Bawal ang patrabahuhin mo ang isang tao at hindi mo bigyan ng sahod at mga benepisyo na nararapat ayon sa batas," Egargo said.

(This is illegal. It is prohibited to have an employee work and not pay him or her a salary and the benefits mandated by law.) 

"Given the set of facts na pinresent ni Alyas Rene, maari po siyang pumasok sa definition ng trafficking-in-persons under sa law natin. And it may be considered as trafficking for labor exploitation," Quintana said.

(Give the set of facts that were presented by Alias Rene, this falls under the definition of trafficking-in-persons under our law.)

Lawyer Kathleen Kaye Laurente, legal counsel of Jose Maria College Foundation Inc. which is affiliated to KOJC, explained that full-time workers of the religious organization don't have salaries, only an honorarium.

"I beg to disagree with that (P200 to P300 honorarium). As a full-time miracle worker because that is not really the amount. We cannot give you the exact [amount]... it depends upon the ministry that was entrusted to you... We have performance appraisal...Again, we are serving because this is voluntary, this is being a missionary, so this is not actually employment for the record," she said.

Hontiveros pointed out that SMNI is a different entity from the KOJC because it is a media organization. 

The Senate is investigating the human trafficking and sexual abuses allegedly done under Quiboloy's leadership of KOJC to "allow [the Senate] to determine whether our updated human trafficking laws are able to cover large-scale and systemic acts of trafficking done under the cover of a religious organization."

It was Senator Risa Hontiveros who sought the inquiry into the matter.

Quiboloy earlier said he would not submit himself to the Senate investigation and would only answer the allegations against him before the courts. A subpoena has already been issued against him by the committee.

Quiboloy was indicted in the United States in 2021 for charges related to alleged sex-trafficking operation. —KBK/RF, GMA Integrated News