VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Quiboloy ‘quote’ on his church’s ‘exemption’ from novel coronavirus a HOAX

Netizens on Facebook (FB) are sharing a fake quote card that claims Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder and self-proclaimed “Appointed Son of God” Apollo Quiboloy said God has “exempted” members of his church from contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV).

The hoax comes a few hours after the Department of Health confirmed the first positive case of the 2019 nCoV in the country. The virus has killed 213 in China and has infected over 9,000 people in 21 countries.

At least two netizens published the fabricated post on Jan. 31, which was shared over 83,000 times collectively in less than a day. It featured a photo of Quiboloy and a statement attributed to the pastor on Jan. 29:

Nakausap ko ang Diyos — ang kumakalat na virus ay kaparusahan sa pagsira sa aming Simbahan. Hindi ko ito mapipigilan, ito po ay itinakda. Ngunit ang mga kasapi po ay walang dapat ipag-alala, kami po ay exempted sabi ng Diyos. (I have spoken with God — the spreading virus is punishment for destroying our church. I can’t stop this, this was meant to happen. However, our church members have nothing to worry about, God said we are exempted).”

Quiboloy said no such thing.

Speeches and videos uploaded on his official FB page and YouTube channel show Quiboloy did not make any pronouncement regarding the deadly virus on Jan. 29. Instead, his first public mention of 2019 nCoV only came a day later, Jan. 30, in a FB video where he said a “prayer for humanity,” asking God to “stop this epidemic by His power” and “give humanity once again a chance to survive.”

More, the fake quote card is a manipulated version of a November 2019 quote card on Quiboloy, which showed him saying he “stopped” the earthquake in Mindanao last October. The original quote was replaced with the fabricated nCoV quote, while the logos of at the lower portion of the photo were edited out.

The fake quote card made the rounds on the Web a day after the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States raided the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, leading to the arrest of three of its members allegedly involved in human trafficking and immigration fraud.

The FB post has gathered more than 37,400 reactions — mostly “Haha” responses — and almost 16,700 comments from netizens.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)