Philippine-based Pastor Apollo Quiboloy
Influential Philippine-based Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who is wanted by the FBI, may have ran out of excuses for non-appearance in hearings related to his alleged abuses and the media franchise of his free-to-air TV channel SMNI, now under congressional scrunity. Image Credit: Twitter | X

Manila: Two legislative subpoenas are out now on FBI-wanted Filipino pastor Apollo Quiboloy, leader of the Philippines-based sect, called the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The Senate subpoena issued on Quiboloy on Monday refers to alleged abuses and sexual offenses.

The other subpoena, issued by the House of Representatives, refers to an abuse-of-franchise investigation against SMNI network, a free-to-air media company allegedly run by the powerful pastor, a known ally of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Senate subpoena

“Pastor Quiboloy's refusal to appear amounts to disrespect for the entire institution of the Senate. This is not religious persecution. This is an investigation into the misuse of beliefs, faith, or religion to abuse and take advantage of fellow individuals,” Senator Riza Hontiveros stated in Filipino in a post on X.

The office of Sen. Risa Hontiveros confirmed to reporters on Monday that Senate President Juan Miguel Zubri had signed the subpoena against Quiboloy.

What is a subpoena?
It is a writ ordering a person to attend a court.

A subpoena, or "witness summons", is a writ issued by a government agency to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure.

“Yes, the subpoena order against Apollo Quiboloy is out. No matter how loud the noise of politics is, the voice of justice remains the loudest,” Hontiveros said, speaking partly in Filipino, in her opening statement during her panel hearing on the alleged crimes of Quiboloy.

“As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, I will not allow the courage and strength gathered by the victim-survivors to be sidelined just to prioritise political squabbles,” she added.

Quiboloy is wanted by the FBI for involvement in sex trafficking of young girls. The US embassy in Manila stated that the Filipino pastor is sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act for human rights violations. "Among other effects, all property and interests in property for Quiboloy in the US are blocked, and US persons and entities are blocked from engaging in transactions with Quiboloy."

House subpoena

Meanwhile, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Parañaque 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting had also authorised a subpoena against Quiboloy, compelling his attendance at a House panel hearing.

The subpoena, signed on February 13, follows Quiboloy's repeated absences from committee hearings regarding SMNI-related bills and resolutions, prompting Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel to request the subpoena.

Documents from Romualdez' office display signatures from Romualdez and Tambunting, requesting Quiboloy's presence at the upcoming hearing concerning Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) on March 12 at 1:00 pm.

Failure to appear would result in the committee holding Quiboloy in contempt.