May 24, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Quiboloy’s whereabouts questioned amid DOJ’s venue change request

A HOUSE leader on Monday demanded accountability from law enforcement authorities regarding the whereabouts of controversial televangelist Apollo Quiboloy, who is the subject of arrest warrants issued by Congress and the courts.

“My bigger concern is bakit hindi pa nahahanap si Quiboloy,” Deputy Speaker and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David “Jay-jay” Suarez said during a press conference at the House of Representatives.

Suarez made the statement in response to inquiries about his stance on the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) endorsing the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request to transfer Quiboloy’s criminal cases from Davao City to Pasig City.

“We’ve been on a manhunt for how many months already. I know the Senate had already issued a warrant against him. The PNP has been looking for him, the NBI has been looking for him,” Suarez said.

“So, I think the bigger question is: where is Pastor Apollo Quiboloy? I think that’s the bigger question we need to ask,” he added.

Last March 19, the Senate ordered the arrest of Quiboloy for failing to appear at the inquiry into his alleged human rights abuses. 

Prior to this, the House issued an arrest warrant for Quiboloy for his refusal to cooperate in the inquiry regarding the alleged franchise violations of SMNI, a media network believed to be owned by him.

Quiboloy is also facing arrest warrants from a Davao court for charges of sexual abuse and child abuse, while a Pasig court has ordered his arrest for the non-bailable offense of human trafficking.

Despite these legal actions, Quiboloy has remained elusive, and law enforcement agencies tasked with his arrest have been unable to determine his whereabouts.

Suarez underscored the gravity of Quiboloy’s evasion, highlighting its implications for the respect of governmental institutions and adherence to Philippine laws.

He called on law enforcement agencies to intensify efforts to locate Quiboloy and ensure his proper custody for legal proceedings.

“This is also a gentle callout to our law enforcement agencies to implement, look for him and put him in proper custody so that we can fully progress into the legal proceedings when it comes to the cases that he is now facing,” Suarez stressed.

Meanwhile, House Assistant Majority Leaders Jil Bongalon (AKO BICOL Party-list), Zia Alonto Adiong (Lanao del Sur, 1st District), and Paolo Ortega (La Union, 1st District), and Rep. Joel Chua (Manila 3rd District) welcomed the recommendation of OCA and DOJ to transfer Quiboloy’s cases from Davao City to Pasig City, citing concerns regarding fairness, neutrality and the safety of individuals involved.

Bongalon expressed reservations about conducting proceedings in Davao City, the site of alleged harassments and human trafficking incidents, which could potentially compromise the trial’s fairness.

“For us to expect neutrality in the environment, for us to expect fair play and impartiality during the entire course of the legal proceedings, kailangan po mag-change venue,” Bongalon said.

Chua, a lawyer, said that the request for a change of venue is a standard procedure in cases where there is a perceived bias or influence in a particular location.

“Nangyayari po talaga iyan sa proseso po ng korte na ‘pag sa tingin po ng batas ay magkakaroon ng whitewash or may impluwensya ‘yung tao doon sa

lugar, ina-allow po ‘yung ganitong proseso – ‘yung change of venue,” Chua said.

Adiong drew parallels between legal proceedings and sports, emphasizing the concept of a “home court advantage.” 

“Lahat naman po tayo nanonood ng mga games, ‘di ba, especially basketball games? May kasabihan tayo na home court advantage,” Adiong said. 

He noted Quiboloy’s significant influence in Davao City and the potential for interference from both supporters and detractors, citing the need for a neutral and secure trial environment.

“Kasi doon po ang bailiwick talaga ni Quiboloy,” he pointed out. 

In favoring the transfer to Pasig City,  Ortega emphasized that Quiboloy’s cases have extended beyond local borders, evolving into a national and international issue.

“This is no longer a local issue, national, actually international issue na siya kasi meron din pong outside of our borders, meron din po mga nakahain against the pastor. So magnified na po ‘tong kaso na ito,” Ortega said.

He also underscored the importance of safeguarding the safety and interests of local residents by transferring the case to a different court.