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Senate panel seeks Quiboloy's arrest over refusal to face probe

The Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality will seek the arrest of Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) leader Apollo Quiboloy for refusing to appear at the investigation into the alleged human trafficking and sexual abuses involving his religious group.

This developed as committee chairperson Senator Risa Hontiveros cited Quiboloy in contempt after the religious leader repeatedly ignored the subpoena issued by the Senate as he invoked his right to due process.

"Pursuant to Section 18 of the Rules of the Senate, as chair of the Committee, with the concurrence of one member here with me (Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III), I cite in contempt Apollo Carreon Quiboloy for his refusal to be sworn or to testify before this investigation. This committee requests the Senate President to order his arrest so that he may be brought to testify," Hontiveros said.

Prior to citing Quiboloy in contempt, Hontiveros disclosed a letter dated Feb. 28 sent by Quiboloy's lawyer Melanio Balayan addressed to her and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

"With all due respect to Your Honors and the Senate as an institution, we hereby submit that the issuance and enforcement of the said Subpoena is in wanton violation of the fundamental and sacred constitutional rights of our Client against self-incrimination and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt," Balayan's letter read.

"With the criminal charges against him being tried virtually in public through the [S]enate committee and all available media, our Client is now being humiliated, ridiculed, harassed and maligned at all media fronts with reckless abandon as if he was already a convict. The essence of due process of law—that hears before it condemns—is being rendered useless under the present circumstances. We thus invoke our Client's right against further incrimination by recusing himself from the ongoing investigation," he added.

However, Hontiveros refuted the argument raised by Quiboloy's lawyer, explaining that the power of the Senate to launch an investigation would be diminished if it would allow witnesses to claim that appearing before a committee would violate his constitutional right to be presumed innocent and right against self-incrimination.

"Madaling-madali na lang umiwas sa mga hearing ng Blue Ribbon sa mga tiwaling opisyal, sa mga imbestigasyon ng Public Order Committee sa mga sangkot sa mga krimen. Hindi po uubra ang ganitong mga excuse," she said.

(It would be easy for the witnesses to evade the investigations of the Blue Ribbon against erring government officials, or the Public Order Committee against people involved in crimes. This kind of excuse is not acceptable.)


Minutes after the Senate panel decided on Quiboloy's arrest, Senator Robin Padilla raised his objection to the ruling.

"Ipagpaumanhin po ninyo, akin pong tinututulan ang naging pasya na ma-contempt si Pastor Quiboloy, with all due respect, Ma'am," Padilla manifested.

(With all due respect, I object to the decision of the committee to cite Pastor Quiboloy in contempt.)

While she noted Padilla's objection, Hontiveros said that under Section 18 of the Rules of Procedures Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation, "[a] majority of all the members may... reverse or modify the aforesaid order of contempt within seven days."

"May pitong araw po ang majority of the members of the committee na gawing pormal itong pag-object sa ruling ng chair holding Pastor Quiboloy in contempt," Hontiveros said.

(The majority of the members of the committee have seven days to formalize the objection to the ruling of the chair to hold Pastor Quiboloy in contempt.)

In an ambush interview after the hearing, Hontiveros called on the members of the panel to uphold the contempt ruling.

"Ang panawagan ko sa mga kasamahan ko sa komite ay i-uphold yung ruling of contempt at bigyang daan yung pagpapa-aresto ni [Senate president] kay Quiboloy for the purpose of making him appear at the hearing," Hontiveros said.

(My call for the other members of the committee is to uphold the ruling of contempt to pave way for the Senate president to have Quiboloy arrested for the purpose of making him appear at the hearing.)

Apart from Hontiveros and Padilla, the other members of the Senate panel are Senators Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Imee Marcos, Raffy Tulfo, Bong Go, JV Ejercito, and Mark Villar.

Ex-officio members are Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda and Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, and Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III.


In a statement which quotes the Bible, Quiboloy's legal counsel Atty. Ferdinand Topacio indicated that persecution which happened to Christ's apostles is what's happening to his client.

"Persecution is what happened to the Apostles and this is still happening today, as predicted by Jesus (John 16:1–4). Those who bring God's message are persecuted, jailed, and killed, as what happened before to the prophets whom God sent to warn Israel of His coming judgment," Topacio said.

"But God will  send more messengers, to provide further opportunity for the world to hear the gospel (Matthew 23:19). Also, it provides further evidence against those who reject God's truth," he added.

"The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' era will persecute and murder many of these future messengers. They will even pursue them when they try to flee persecution (Acts 8:1–3). This is what is happening to Pastor Quiboloy at the hands of this government," Topacio said.

Aside from the contempt citation by the Senate committee, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday announced that qualified human trafficking and child abuse cases will be filed against Quiboloy.

At a press conference, Remulla said the Department of Justice (DOJ) has granted a petition of review, directing the Office of the City Prosecutor of Davao City to file a case against Quiboloy for sexual abuse of a minor in 2011, in violation of Republic Act 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”

Meanwhile, the qualified trafficking case will be filed in a Pasig City court.

Show of support

Meanwhile, supporters of the Quiboloy trooped outside the Senate building bearing posters with statements on various political issues.

Some of the posters read, "Protect Pastor Apollo Quiboloy"; "Risa Hontiveros Human Rights Abuses"; "Abolish Congress."

The supporters of the KOJC leader were also heard chanting "Risa resign," referring to Hontiveros who is leading the Senate investigation into Quiboloy's alleged abuses.

The Senate had earlier issued a subpoena against Quiboloy after the religious leader repeatedly skipped the panel's investigation into the alleged abuses.

The KOJC leader earlier said he would not submit himself to the Senate inquiry into the allegations of sexual abuse made by former members of his religious organization against him.

Hontiveros had already warned Quiboloy that he would be arrested if he failed to attend the scheduled Senate hearings.

In a voice message posted recently on social media, Quiboloy accused the United States government, with the help from Philippine officials, of plotting to eliminate him.

The controversial religious leader is facing various cases in the US, including trafficking and bulk cash smuggling.

The House of Representatives has also issued a subpoena against Quiboloy, directing him to appear before the congressional inquiry into the call to revoke the franchise of Swara Sug Media Corporation, which operates Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI). — VDV/RF, GMA Integrated News