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Thursday, June 13, 2024

High court junks Quiboloy appeal to stop arrest order

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The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday said it has required the Senate to comment on the petition filed by Kingdom of Jesus Christ leader Pastor Apollo Quiboloy seeking to stop the Upper Chamber from implementing its warrant of arrest against him.

In resolution, SC spokesperson Camille Ting said the SC gave the Senate 10 days upon receipt of the notice to file its comment.

The high court directed the Senate to file its comment both on the petition of Quiboloy and the prayer of the petitioner for the SC to issue a TRO that will push for the implementation of the warrant of arrest against the religious leader.

The Senate issued an arrest order against Quiboloy after the KJC leader refused to appear before its hearing regarding allegations of sexual abuse.

This prompted Quiboloy to ask the high court to stop the Senate from enforcing its arrest order against him, calling it “unjust and unconstitutional.”

The Senate issued the arrest order after Quiboloy refused to appear before the chamber’s committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality to answer allegations of human trafficking, rape, sexual abuse and violence leveled against him and his sect by former members. The chamber’s committee is chaired by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

The petitioner argued that the investigation being conducted by the Senate violates Quiboloy’s constitutional rights to due process and against self-incrimination.

The petitioner lamented that the Senate hearings “do not serve any legislative purpose” and that the Senate probe was tantamount to usurpation of judicial functions.

Quiboloy’s presence would only be used to initiate cases against him and bolster those already filed in court against the religious leader.

“It is evident that respondents are using and abusing their legislative power to secure his conviction in any manner, on the basis of one-sided statements of witnesses, uncorroborated by documentary evidence, sourced and presented by the respondents alone,” it added.

Counsel also noted that the Senate continues to investigate the alleged crimes despite knowing that they are already being litigated in courts in the Philippines and in the United States.

Without a TRO or a writ of preliminary injunction, the petitioner said nothing would prevent respondents from depriving the KOJC leader of his liberty “based on orders that are unjust and unconstitutional.”

“This petition is yet another challenge to the legislature’s act of usurping judicial functions and flagrantly violating the fundamental human rights of witness/es being summoned to appear before its congressional hearings in the guise of hearings/investigations in aid of legislation,” the petition read.

Quiboloy’s camp cited a recent Supreme Court ruling, which stated that congressional hearings “cannot be punitive in the sense that they cannot result in legally binding deprivation of a person’s life, liberty or property.”

Named respondents in the petition were Hontiveros, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and the Senate sergeant-at-arms.

In response, Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday said she is prepared to answer any order of the Supreme Court.

“My counsel, former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, is with me, ready to study, deliberate, and respond as soon as possible,” she said.

Hontiveros guaranteed they certainly will comply with the directive of the SC as they are fully aware of the principle of separation of powers and with only the highest respect for the country’s institutions.

Meanwhile, former Senate President Franklin Drilon urged Quiboloy to face the music as he emphasized the significance of the SC’s refusal to grant a TRO to Quiboloy, saying it reinforces the constitutional authority of the Senate to conduct investigations in aid of legislation.

The former lawmaker stressed that “The Supreme Court recognized the constitutional power of the Senate, as it has consistently ruled in the past, to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation.”

While the former Senate leader and justice secretary said that Quiboloy is subject to the processes of the Senate like any other citizen, he also underscored that the KJC leader “should accord due respect to the ruling of the Supreme Court and the processes of the Senate, as upheld by the SC.”

Quiboloy faces criminal charges before trial courts in Davao City and Pasig City over allegations of sexual abuse and qualified human trafficking of a then 17-year-old girl in 2011.

Charges were filed at the Davao City Regional Trial Court for violations of Section 5(b) and Section 10(a) of Republic Act 7610, the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

The case in Pasig City was for violation of Section 4(a) of RA 9208, the Anti-Trafficking Persons Act of 2003, a non-bailable offense. A California judge had earlier ordered the unsealing of the arrest warrants against Quiboloy and his co-accused.

Charges include sex trafficking by force, fraud, coercion, sex trafficking of children, conspiracy and cash smuggling.

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