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What price for obstructing justice?

Any honest-to-goodness discussion of senators protecting the embattled Apollo Quiboloy should always find its center on his wealth and riches. In a country where political power is for sale, there is no other way.

Never mind Bong Go. He is always expected as a Rodrigo Duterte automaton. In fact, his principal has just been appointed property administrator of the so-called Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Quiboloy’s highly unusual sect.

There is no other body language we see. It is Quiboloy’s wealth and money that predicates the behavior of senators who are now objecting to his senate arrest. A fitting understanding of how rich Quiboloy is would give us a better view of Robin Padilla, Imee Marcos and Cynthia Villar defending him as though they were not senators of the land. As they themselves have admitted, Quiboloy is their stereotypical friend in high places.

One source describes his properties as vast. If it were not vast, perhaps Quiboloy would not have seen the need to appoint Duterte. But the FBI is closing in on him. The unsealing of his warrant in the US means it will be shared to the Interpol. His greatest fear is materializing like a ghost in the nights of Tamayong. He will face arrest probably sooner than expected.

Duterte’s role “includes preserving, retaining, maintaining, and managing the properties of KOJC in the Philippines.” Notice that it says Philippines, not just Davao city. Quiboloy fears that once he falls, his kingdom will also crumble. He knows it was built on sand. Notice as well that the appointment is silent on Quiboloy’s properties in the United States, which the FBI said it would seize by criminal forfeiture.

Properties listed by the FBI alone are staggering. These are the Cessna Citation Sovereign jet valued at $18M (usually parked at his private hangar at the Davao city airport), a Bell 429 Globalranger helicopter (usually parked at his Glory Mountain helipad in Tamayong, Davao city), several luxury cars and real estate holdings, a million dollar mansion in Calabasas, California. That does not yet include his second private jet.

The FBI has also listed houses in Las Vegas, Nevada and Kapolei, Hawaii, as well as the kingdom’s headquarters in Van Nuys, California. When he was detained with his aircraft in Honolulu on February 13, 2018, Quiboloy had in his luggage $335,000 in cold cash and another 9,000 cash in Australian dollars. UK’s Daily Mail even posted a photo of the detained luxury jet on the tarmac of the Honolulu airport.

US federal agents have come on record saying that from 2014 to 2019, some $20M have been sent from the US to the Philippines. That is only the proceeds of his church members who beg on the streets selling foodstuffs.

Quiboloy owns prime properties in Davao city. Sitting on an 18-hectare lot right adjacent to the Davao city airport is his Jose Maria College, which offers law and medicine, among other courses and basic education.

Within the compound is his still unfinished KJC King Dome that, at 75,000 seating capacity, aims to outclass the Iglesia ni Cristo’s 55,000-seat Philippine Arena in Bulacan. Construction cost has now ballooned to 13B Pesos. It will have 38 elevators and the structure itself has six layers of insulation and waterproofing.

Quiboloy is pro- Red China. He was once part of Duterte’s state visit to that communist country. In January 2018, Quiboloy entered into a partnership with Red Chinese sports company Dafeng, which made the KJC King Dome part of Xi Jin Ping’s One Belt One Road Initiative.

The complex will also include the 26-hectare Kingdom Global City Commercial Complex, a mixed-use development registered with the government’s Tourism Enterprise Zone. It will have a condominium, a hotel, a museum, a hangar, a commercial center, and an administration complex.

All that may only be a fraction of Quiboloy’s vast interests. He also owns moneymaking ventures. One of them is the ACQ Solomonic Builders Development Corporation, which, under the Duterte presidency, bagged key multi-million public works projects in and around the Davao region.

Quiboloy also operates the Sonshine Sports Management Inc., a sporting management group that hosts sporting events in Davao city, with plans to expand in the entire country. It hosts the ACQ Cup Basketball League. It also aims to host golf and volleyball tournaments.

In Makati is the ACQ Tower that houses the Manila operations of the now-suspended Sonshine Media Network International. Under Sonshine Radio, Quiboloy has eight radio stations all over the Philippines.

It is naïve to think that those are only what we know of his wealth and properties. Given his vast material capital, it should not surprise us that the four senators out to block Senator Risa Hontiveros’s warrant for contempt on Quiboloy all cite his “goodness” and his “friendship.”

Ding-a-ling Robin Padilla wins in naiveté. He admits he was on the receiving end of Quiboloy’s generosity. Quiboloy gave him free airtime and lent him the use of his helicopter during his senatorial campaign.

How else did he, Imee Marcos, and Cynthia Villar benefit from Quiboloy’s largesse that they have no scruples expressing their gratitude to him instead of defending Quiboloy’s victims of rape, sex trafficking, and sex abuse of minors?

For being shameless in obstructing justice, Padilla, Marcos, Villar and Go have made Apollo Quiboloy above the law. Friendship matters, not the interests of the Filipino people. The Philippines is hopeless.

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