Senate panel issues subpoena vs. Quiboloy over alleged abuses

By Wilnard Bacelonia

February 19, 2024, 6:29 pm Updated on February 19, 2024, 7:49 pm

<p>Pastor Apollo Quiboloy <em>(Photo courtesy of Kingdom of Jesus Christ Facebook) </em></p>

Pastor Apollo Quiboloy (Photo courtesy of Kingdom of Jesus Christ Facebook) 

MANILA – The Senate's Office of Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) is now set to serve the subpoena issued by the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality against Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) Leader Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.

With this, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Senator Risa Hontiveros, who chairs the panel, is expecting that Quiboloy will appear to the third public inquiry on the alleged abuses happening within the KOJC.

"Ang subpoena, it's stronger than an invitation. Kailangan sundin niya, i-heed niya yung subpoena (A subpoena is stronger than an invitation. He should heed the subpoena)," Hontiveros told reporters Monday.

The subpoena was signed by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The panel is yet to schedule the next hearing but the lawmaker assured that it will be fair to Quiboloy.

Before suspending the second hearing, Hontiveros announced that she would also invite more resource persons mentioned by witnesses.

"We expect you, especially Quiboloy, to respect that subpoena and finally show up to our Senate investigation," she said.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Quiboloy remains in the country.

This is after Hontiveros said she had received information that the KOJC leader had left the Philippines.

“As per the record, he is in the country. (His) last recorded arrival is July,” BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said in a message.

House subpoena

The House of Representatives has also issued a subpoena to Quiboloy amid the chamber’s hearings on the alleged franchise violations of Swara Sug Media Corporation, which operates Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

In a letter signed by Speaker Martin Romualdez and House Committee on Legislative Franchises chair Gus Tambunting released on Monday, the House directed Quiboloy, who sits as honorary chairman of SMNI, to appear at a public congressional hearing at 1 p.m. on March 12, 2024.

Defying the subpoena, according to the letter, would result in a contempt citation and arrest.

"Please be advised that failure to comply with this Order will constrain the committee to resort to Section 11 of the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation of the House of Representatives on the power of Contempt," the letter read.

1-Rider Party-list Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez said SMNI's franchise violations include its failure to deliver truthful and balanced reporting to its audience, and transferring its shares without prior approval by Congress.

Gutierrez called for the revocation of SMNI's franchise under House Bill 9710, arguing that the acts of the network should not be "countenanced".

"Knowing further that misinformation and misrepresentation can have serious implications, most especially in shaping public opinion, and thus create potential social and political divide, the operation of Swara Sug or SMNI is considered a threat to national security and stability as it continues to use its platform to disseminate unverified and untruthful statements, the swift passage of this measure is earnestly sought," Gutierrez said. (with a report from Filane Mikee Cervantes/Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)