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This is what Friends are for

Many years back, there was this leader of a religious group which was big in some provinces. (I think it was also in Mindanao.) I think he was convicted and incarcerated or some offense directly or indirectly related to sexual abuse. I could not remember his name; much less the name of his group which was probably too wordy for memory. What I remember is that he had this inclination towards his electric guitar which he requested that he be permitted to bring to jail. Apparently, the court granted him the permission, because I remember videos of him playing in prison. (I wish I could remember his name so I could google about him.)

I suddenly remembered him because the Senate finally ordered the arrest of Pastor Apollo Quibuloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc., based in Davao (Yes, the same land of durian and Duterte.). What’s remarkable about this group is that they believe that Quibuloy himself is the appointed son of God. (Okay, to each his own.) I guess, some religious leaders make somewhat similar claims. They’re just not as flamboyant as Ptr. Quibuloy. But he beats them all by making it to the FBI’s Most Wanted. Yes. He has been included in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (not NBI) Most Wanted. That’s American. That’s US. The Feds posted on January 31, 2022 that the pastor is wanted for “conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, and sex trafficking of children; sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; conspiracy; bulk cash smuggling.”. ( Whoa! These are serious crimes; and you thought he was wanted for something like slander or libel due to some careless speech on the pulpit. Did you count how many times the word “sex” was repeated there? So, why don’t FBI agents just come and cuff him. Well, they can’t just do that in a foreign country; and I think he has to answer first local cases before he extradited. One thing more, he has had friends in high places, close friends in high places.

Isn’t it a coincidence that the Pastor is wanted by the Philippine Senate and the US FBI for similar cases, for cases related to sexual abuse of women. I imagine that it would have been suspicious if he were wanted in the US for cases remotely related to allegations at the local level. But the cases are practically similar. He’s consistent.

Now, these are the issues that I don’t get with our elected officials. Why does a senator object to the implementation of standard operating procedures of placing under arrest a respondent who has ignored the Senate’s summon? Should not that be automatic? Is it okay for some senators to be ignored by some special citizens? Why are there senators who doubt the merit of the cases just because they claim that they have known the respondent for a long time? I heard this from one senator. Because their family has known the Pastor for a long time, they don’t know aout the case, as if saying they don’t believe the reports. (Well, I guess, believing is a personally subjective matter.) But what does that make of the witnesses or complainants? Are the chances of them telling the truth decreased because they’re not family friends with some senators? Why are some elected officials and former elected officials openly expressing support for an internationally wanted individual? Silent support due to friendship is one thing, but they really have to be an active presence in the rallies. Why did the Senate President have to take his time to sit down in making decision on an issue that is pretty much given, obvious and standard? The procedures should be clear. A respondent was cited for contempt. An objection was made, but not sufficiently supported. The order should have been immediate. Come on, Mr. President. Why is his arrest order being labeled as “pamumulitika”? Does his arrest in any way destabilize the party of the political opponents of some senators? Suppose Pastor Quibuloy is charged with a number of cases and is found guilty, extradited to the US and similarly found guilty there, does that jeopardize Vice President Duterte’s political plans? The actions, decisions, and hesitations to make decisions and actions of these officials don’t make sense.

I guess, that’s how it is in this nation. If you’re friends with highly influential and powerful people, you could expect objections to legal motions against you, support through affirmation in documents, expressions of support in social functions. Friends in higher places would get out of their way to defend and support you.

How many times have these happened and will happen again?

Psalm 82:4: “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.””


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