The futility of fugitives from justice

Apparently, Apollo Quiboloy does not read history. A man who thinks he is god probably believes he has no need for learning from history. After all, not only does he have a hotline to heaven, he actually gets transported body and soul to heaven, or so he pompously preaches.

An exacting man of his worldly possessions, Quiboloy amazes by getting himself wrong on all counts in his truancy from justice. None among our infamous fugitives ever escaped successfully from the law. In fact, all of them were only put to shame when captured.

When an arrest warrant was issued against Gringo Honasan in February of 2006, it took the arresting authorities about nine months to capture him. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered his arrest after naming him the ringleader of a planned coup against her government. She also claimed Honasan had conspired to kill her after attempts to impeach her had failed, following her Hello Garci scandal.

Honasan was said to have become a master of disguises in fleeing the clutches of the law. He once dressed as a nun, and had posed as a dead man in a coffin while being transported by a hearse.

In the wee hours of one November morning in 2006, Honasan was finally captured in one of his hideouts, a posh townhouse inside a gated Metro Manila village. He was tracked from his mobile phone’s location because the life of a fugitive needs to make calls. To elude capture, he jumped over the walls of adjoining homes, and climbed rooftops. He had a P5 million bounty on his head.

Despite the derring-do that fugitives go to flee, they still get cornered. Perhaps the most audacious one straight out of a Hollywood suspense thriller set was the capture of Romeo Jalosjos in the high seas in 1997. Jalosjos had said he was a victim of trial by publicity, the same apology Sara Duterte now attributes of Apollo Quiboloy. He also said he wanted his day in court, as Quiboloy too demands (but with incredibly unreasonable conditions). Yet Jalosjos fled the law after the filing of charges against him for two counts of statutory rape, a non-bailable crime, and acts of lasciviousness. He was on the run for 23 days.

Jalosjos was not in his Ritz Tower condominium on Ayala Avenue when police served the warrant on December 23, 1996. Police then surrounded his private island off Zamboanga del Norte. But Jalosjos was nowhere near there, for he was far away in Batangas province, surrounded by a gang of armed guards. A tipster had alerted the local police.

Fearing a bloodbath, Fidel Ramos ordered his Presidential Security Group to do surveillance and perform the arrest. Suddenly, Jalosjos and his armed men slipped out on a speedboat. The PSG gave chase on three speedboats. Crossing the mouth of Manila Bay, they reached the Bataan peninsula. Jalosjos made a sudden turn on a narrow inlet. Fugitives are always overwhelmed by survival instincts. They are afraid to die. He then ordered his men to lay down their arms. The Mindanao warlord was finally captured.

On January 5, 2010, Panfilo Lacson took a flight for Hongkong shortly before double murder charges were filed against him for the killings of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito that took place in November 2000. He was not in the immigration watch list and there was no hold-departure order against him.

Two days later, an arrest warrant was issued against him. The following month in February 2010, the Interpol issued a Red Notice for his apprehension in a foreign land. Lacson was a fugitive from justice for the next fifteen months. A year later, in February 2011, the Court of Appeals ruled to withdraw the murder charges against Lacson questioning the credibility of one witness who had recanted. A month later, the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s ruling.

With that ruling’s finality, Lacson slipped back into the country, but through the Mactan Cebu International Airport. He then took a private plane to Manila, a Baron-type twin-engine model. Fugitives are fugitives with much help from people of means and in high places. After Quiboloy is captured, which is of course a certainty, government must review who had aided the cult leader in hiding. They too must face the arms of the law.

Lacson was virtually absolved from involvement in the murder case, but he had to do a painstaking effort to overturn his tarnished crime buster image from his flight. That “flight is a sign of guilt” was on everyone’s mind. In a statement he issued, Lacson averred: “This is one case that I will dispute the argument – flight is an indication of guilt. I am not guilty but I cannot risk putting my life and security at the mercy of that evil conspiracy,” saying that his arrest warrant was a “conspiracy of whispers between Mrs. Arroyo and her stooge in the Department of Justice.”

He may have been exonerated, but the Dacer-Corbito murder mastermind has never been known till this day. Lacson lost his bid for the presidency in 2022. The legend of his tough crime buster image is as good as dead like Dacer and Corbito. Lacson goes down in history not without that grim association with the double murders.

Quiboloy has no choice but to take counsel from the failed flights of these past fugitives. His flight has only diminished him. He has become the savior – of himself. He is not the “appointed son of god” after all.

Those who ridicule him now using the example of Eliyu Simiyu of Kenya are right. Simiyu, a self-proclaimed Jesus Christ, fled to local police for protection after some locals allegedly hatched a plan to have him crucified, to test if he will rise again on the third day.

The kind of dishonorable cheerleaders Quiboloy has – Robin Padilla, Francis Tolentino, Imee Marcos, Sara Duterte, among others – only confirm speculations that they won their positions not out of Quiboloy’s divine intervention but because of his material support to them, helicopters, private jets and all. They are simply paying back Quiboloy. These senators have the mark of the beast. The Philippines is a damaged country because of them.

Each minute Quiboloy hides means he is an impostor god who the universe has disowned.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.