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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Senate seeks SC dismissal of Quiboloy plea vs. arrest

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The Senate has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the petition filed by Kingdom of Jesus Christ leader Apollo Quiboloy who questioned the validity of an arrest order issued by the Senate.

Quiboloy’s arrest was issued last March by the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality which is chaired by Senator Risa Hontiveros.

The controversial religious leader was cited in contempt and an arrest order was subsequently issued for his refusal to participate in the Senate’s investigations on alleged sexual abuse, human trafficking, forced labor, and other human rights violations hurled against him.

In his petition, Quiboloy asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order and stop implementation of the arrest order against him for being “unjust and unconstitutional.”    

He said the Senate’s investigation violates his constitutional rights to due process and against self-incrimination.

According to him, the Senate hearings “do not serve any legislative purpose” and that the probe was tantamount to usurpation of judicial functions.

During its traditional summer sessions in Baguio City, the SC required the Senate to comment on Quiboloy’s petition.

SC Spokesperson Atty. Camille Sue Mae L. Ting said the High Court would deliberate on Quiboloy’s plea for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the arrest order once the Senate’s comment on the petition is filed.

In its comment, the Senate argued that “Quiboloy has failed to establish a clear and unmistakable right that is under threat, nor is he at risk of suffering an irreparable injury” should the arrest order be implemented.

“He offers not a right but a speculative and doubtful prediction of what will happen if he attends a legitimate inquiry, as if he is prescient as to how the 24 senators will act in the future,” the comment said.

The Senate also asserted that the injuries claimed by Quiboloy because of the Senate’s arrest order “is purely self-inflicted.” 

“He would not be in this predicament had he simply performed an obligation that every citizen of this country is bound to perform,” it said.

Two arrest orders have been issued by the Pasig City and Davao City regional trial courts (RTC) against Quiboloy on criminal cases filed by prosecutors based on the complaints lodged by a girl who as only 17 years old at the time the alleged offenses were committed.

The case before the Pasig City involved a non-bailable offense of qualified trafficking in person under Republic Act No. 9208. Pending before the Davao City RTC are charges involving sexual abuse of a minor, and violation of Section 5(b) of RA 7610, the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

Quiboloy has remained at large since the issuance of the Senate’s arrest order and even after those issued by the trial courts.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked the SC to transfer the Davao City case to the RTC in Pasig City.

In an interview, Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva said he has recommended the transfer of the Davao City case of Quiboloy.  He did not mention, however, to which court in Metro Manila.

“Yes (on the recommendation for transfer), but we can only recommend and it is up to the Court,” Villanueva said.

The SC is on its decision-writing recess and will resume sessions both in the divisions and the full court on May 13.

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