House gave Quiboloy due process, enough time to explain side – solon

By Jose Cielito Reganit

March 13, 2024, 4:33 pm

<p>Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting <em>(Photo courtesy of House of Representatives)</em></p>

Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting (Photo courtesy of House of Representatives)

MANILA – The House of Representatives has followed due process in citing Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in contempt and ordering his arrest and has given him enough time to explain his side, Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting said Wednesday.

The chair of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises made the statement in response to the call of Vice President Sara Duterte for a “fair trial” for Quiboloy.

Duterte made the appeal in a statement broadcast by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), which is identified with Quiboloy.

“Well, I think she was mentioning, dapat sa korte. Ginagalang po natin ang opinion niya. Dito naman po sa Kongreso, ang pinag-uusapan po ay iyong prangkisa ng SMNI at iyon po ay ibinigay ng Kongreso. Kung ito po ay binigay ng Kongreso, Kongreso rin po lang ang pwedeng bumawi po nito (it must be in the courts. We respect her opinion. Here in Congress, what we are deliberating is the franchise of SMNI, which is granted by Congress. If it was granted by Congress, it will only be Congress that can cancel it),” Tambunting told a news briefing at the House of Representatives in Quezon City.

“At iyon naman pong proseso (as for the process), as far as due process is concerned, dito po sa hearing namin (in our hearing), six months has been given, five months of hearing, six hearings were conducted. And palagay ko, mas maraming sinabi ang kampo ni SMNI kesa po sa mga congressmen. Talaga po lahat po ng kanilang paliwanag ay ating pinakinggan at pinagbigyan po natin lahat ng katanungan nila (And I think that the camp of SMNI have said more than the congressmen. We listened to all their explanations and gave way to all their questions),” he said.

The legislative franchise committee has repeatedly invited Quiboloy to its hearings on alleged violations by SMNI of the broadcasting privilege Congress had renewed for 25 years during the Duterte administration. The religious leader never showed up.

At the end of its sixth hearing on Tuesday, the committee cited Quiboloy in contempt for ignoring its invitations multiple times.

The panel also endorsed plenary approval of a bill terminating SMNI’s broadcasting privilege for allegedly violating at least four conditions in its franchise, including the mandate to be fair and accurate in its broadcasting, dispersal of at least 30 percent of its shares of stock to the public, obtaining the permission of Congress for its change of ownership, and the reportorial requirement.

The committee postponed the enforcement of its arrest order for a few days upon the insistent appeal of Quiboloy’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, who pleaded with the panel to give him some time to talk to his client.

Questioned by committee members if he could convince the pastor, who is reportedly in hiding, to come out and appear before the House, Topacio said he was making no commitment other than to talk to his client.

Tambunting noted that postponing the committee’s arrest order just shows how considerate the House panel is to the many requests of Quiboloy’s camp since the hearings started last November.

“So, lahat ho ng pagbibigay at luwag ay binigay ho namin (So, we gave given all consideration and accommodation) during the five-month hearing,” he said. (PNA)