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We Can’t Give Unprincipled Politicians a Pass

The current investigation by the Philippine Senate of Apollo Quiboloy, the self-proclaimed “Appointed Son of God” and spiritual adviser of former President Rodrigo Duterte, has shown that some members of the Senate appear to have disordered minds.

For reasons that border on narcissism, there are senators who publicly oppose a fellow senator, Risa Hontiveros, for investigating Quiboloy who is accused of rape, sex trafficking of children, violence and child abuse, and labor violations. I find this mind boggling, even a threat to the Senate’s importance as a democratic institution.

The senators I am referring to are Robinhood Padilla, Imee Marcos, Cynthia Villar, and Bong Go.

Padilla, the number one vote-getter during the 2022 national election, vows to block the Senate’s contempt order to have Quiboloy arrested for refusing to testify in the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

Padilla’s reason is purely personal. He considers Quiboloy his friend and a comrade in his fight against communism. He also cautions his fellow senators against running the risk of going against the constitutional provision about the separation of Church and State, implying that Quiboloy is immune from criminal investigations. What a flimsy, ill-conceived, and incoherent justification coming from a senator who took an oath to serve the Filipinos but may not be ready and capable to do so

The sad thing is that Padilla’s position is bolstered by three other senators who, like him, are driven to live out their terms as senators of the country pleasing their friends and political supporters rather than supporting the alleged victims of Quiboloy.

Marcos wants the Senate to slow down because “it seems not right.” She explains that there are “many more issues” surrounding the Quiboloy-led Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI). She further added, “Other accusations took a long time, why only now? Maybe someone is behind this. There’s also a case (pending) in court. Let’s calm down; let’s not oppress the person.” (Daily Tribune, March 5, 2024).

Villar claims that Quiboloy is her friend. So what? It’s about time the lady senator examines whether her morals and values are the same as that of an accused rapist that she is willing to prevent him from testifying, contrary to the rules of the Senate.

Go prefers to remain silent and keeps his reasons to himself. Well, what can you expect from Go who parrots whatever the former president Duterte says?

It is unthinkable that Marcos, who publicly advocates for the power and value of women, and Villar, “who recognizes the significant role of women in a family and society” and even claims her passion “in advocating for economic empowerment of women particularly those in the marginalized communities” would support an alleged rapist and child trafficker for political convenience. What does this posturing tell us about their character?

Even Senator Bato de la Rosa, who is not a member of Hontiveros’ committee, once again shows his penchant for the absurd by avowing that Quiboloy cannot commit all those allegations against him because he is the “Appointed Son of God. So, less expected ko sa kanya na gumawa ng ganong offense.” It’s comments like this that make me question whether Bato is fit to be a senator.

Padilla’s aggressive defense of Quiboloy is a classic example of a politician who will not hesitate to give special treatment to a person accused of heinous crime. He has completely upended traditional practices in the Senate, where senators work collectively and cooperatively to ferret the truth in aid of legislation. His actions are erratic and retrogressive. By doing this, his intellectual acuity, lack of experience, personality traits, and his intentions have been questioned by the public.

Vice President Sara Duterte, who has been tasked to educate our children, downplays the sexual abuse and trafficking charges against Quiboloy. She has complained that the congressional probes are “unfair”, and she brands as mere “trial by publicity” the ongoing investigations. She is not a paragon of right conduct and good moral character.

These politicians apparently lack an understanding of what is right and wrong no matter who gets hurt – one of the characteristics of a sociopath. How these politicians think is so corrosive that it reflects, to a greater or lesser degree, the kind of public servants that they are.

Their decision-making process reflects a contrarian and self-serving disposition rather than moral conviction. Perhaps significantly, and certainly unsurprisingly, they are the reasons why moneyed and well-connected criminals, some of whom are politicians still in government, are not behind bars in our country.

Let us not give these politicians a pass.


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