By Wilnard Bacelonia

BELIEVERS. Supporters of religious leader Apollo Quiboloy hold a rally outside the Senate building in Pasay City on Tuesday (March 5, 2024). Senator Risa Hontiveros wants Quiboloy arrested for refusing to honor a Senate subpoena to attend a probe while the Department of Justice has ordered the filing of sexual abuse of a minor, child abuse and qualified human trafficking charges against the Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday asked the Senate leadership to approve her motion to arrest Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) leader Apollo Quiboloy.

Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, cited Quiboloy in contempt for ignoring the subpoena issued by the committee last week which obligates him to appear and testify before the panel’s ongoing investigation into the alleged abuses within KOJC.

“This committee requests the Senate President to order his arrest so he may be brought to testify,” she added.

Hontiveros also quoted a letter sent by Quiboloy’s lawyer to her office, stating his refusal to attend the hearing.

“Compelling Pastor Quiboloy to appear before a committee that already pronounced him guilty would be violative of his constitutional right against self-incrimination and to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty,” the letter states, as read by Hontiveros.

Citing Quiboloy in contempt upholds the power of the Senate in calling out resource persons to appear before public hearings and inquiries, Hontiveros said.

“If we allow witnesses of the Senate to simply claim that appearing before a committee would violate his or her constitutional right to be presumed innocent and his or her right against self-incrimination, wala na pong kapangyarihan ang ating Senado na maglunsad ng mga imbestigasyon (the Senate will have no more power to conduct investigations),” she said.

Senator Robinhood Padilla, who came in late for the hearing, objected to Hontiveros’ motion, citing Section 18 of the Rules of the Senate saying majority of all members of the committee may reverse or modify the contempt charge within seven days.

“Ako’y nagpapasalamat muli sa inyo sa pagtanggap ng aking (I thank you again for accepting my) objection,” Padilla told Hontiveros.

The panel is set to invite to the next hearing the Anti-Money Laundering Council and Department of Migrant Workers to look further into Quiboloy’s alleged bulk cash smuggling and fraud. (PNA)