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Amid his absence in Senate hearings, Duterte tells Quiboloy to 'get yourself arrested'

By NICK GARCIA Published Feb 28, 2024 4:05 pm

Former president Rodrigo Duterte told the controversial church leader Apollo Quiboloy—his friend and spiritual adviserto “get yourself arrested” amid lawmakers’ probe into the alleged abuses within his religious organization.

“This is a free country. If you do not want to go there, get arrested,” Duterte said in a press conference on late Feb. 27. “I will give him the free choice.”

Duterte also denied “stupid” and “silly” claims that Quiboloy gave him guns.

"Kami magtanggap ng baril kay Pastor Quiboloy? Ako pa mag-deliver sa kanya ng kanyon o machine gun bukas,” he said.

In the Senate hearings on Jan. 23 and Feb. 19, members of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, which Quiboloy had founded, came forward with horror stories of abuse, including minors being forced to give sexual services to Quiboloy. They were also allegedly coerced to beg for money from strangers. Quiboloy’s Sonshine Media Network International was also accused of not paying workers in the name of serving God.

A church member also recalled seeing Quiboloy with bags of guns on his property called “Glory Mountain,” where Duterte and his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, would visit and get the bags. Sara has since denied the claims, saying it’s part of a smear campaign.

Quiboloy skipped the hearings, calling them “bogus” and the witnesses “false accusers.”

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate committee behind the hearings, said that if Quiboloy skips the third one on March 5, she’d cite Quiboloy in contempt and have him arrested.

Last Feb. 21, Quiboloy in a 36-minute voice message on YouTube said he’s in hiding, claiming that there are threats to his life.

He accused President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and First Lady Liza Marcos of being in cahoots with the United States government, supposedly plotting to enter his compound anytime to kidnap him—and assassinate him. He also said he has a bounty on his head worth P100 million.

‘Say your side of the story’

Marcos urged Quiboloy to attend the hearings so he could defend himself.

''He has an opportunity in the hearings both in the House and in the Senate to say his side of the story,” Marcos told reporters in an ambush interview before flying to Australia for a state visit. “Kaya (kung) sinasabi niya, ‘Hindi totoo lahat 'yan, hindi totoo, walang nangyaring ganiyan,’ sabihin niya.”

The president believes it would be difficult for Quiboloy once he’s cited in contempt, so he ought to “just face the questioning in the House and in the Senate.”

Marcos also dismissed Quiboloy’s claims against him and the First Lady.

“Walang may gustong mag-assassinate sa kaniya,” he said. “Bakit siya i-assassinate? Why would anyone want him dead?”

Quiboloy still in the Philippines

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reported that Quiboloy is still in the Philippines, dismissing claims that he fled the country amid the hearings.

BI records showed that the last time Quiboloy left was on July 16, 2023, returning after six days.

Quiboloy, who calls himself the “Appointed Son of God,” has been on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted list since February 2022. He, however, is still actively preaching in and outside the Philippines.

A federal grand jury in the US District Court in California indicted Quiboloy for alleged crimes of “conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion and sex trafficking of children; sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; conspiracy; and bulk cash smuggling.” He was issued a federal warrant of arrest on Nov. 10, 2021.