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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

House ready to have Quiboloy arrested if he ignores subpoena

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The House of Representatives is ready to enforce potential contempt measures and issue an arrest order against televangelist Apollo Quiboloy should he choose to ignore the subpoena issued by the legislature.

1-RIDER Partylist Rep. Rodge Gutierrez added Tuesday that the House Committee on Legislative Franchises is ready to act if Quiboloy persists in evading summons.

“If he is still absent in the next hearing, I think the committee is ready to cite him in contempt and seek his subsequent arrest,” Gutierrez said at a news conference.

The committee, chaired by Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting, is currently taking up a bill aimed at revoking the legislative franchise of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), believed to be owned by Quiboloy.

A subpoena was recently issued against Quiboloy requiring him toattend the committee hearing scheduled on March 12 after he disregarded at least three invitations.

The subpoena was signed by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, Tambunting, and House Secretary General Reginald Velasco.

Gutierrez, the author of the SMNI franchise revocation bill, emphasized the importance of Quiboloy’s presence to shed light on the numerous violations committed by the broadcast network, known for regularly airing the preachings of the religious leader.

He said that there are questions that only Quiboloy himself can answer, not his lawyers.

“As a lawyer, we also understand the SMNI lawyers. Even through hookor by crook, they will really uphold their stand even if it looks like an excuse sometimes. But as lawmakers, we demand answers,” Gutierrez said.

PBA Partylist Rep. Margarita Nograles echoed Gutierrez’s sentiments, underscoring the significance of due process and Quiboloy’s right to address the allegations.

“It’s only right that the Pastor should show up and attend the hearing so that he can answer the questions that are in relation to him and his own personal knowledge. I hope he attends the hearing which deliberates on the franchise [issues of the SMNI],” Nograles said.

She added: “And that’s only a matter of due process. And it’s his right that he should have come so that he can answer the questions [levelled against him] instead of insinuating a lot of things.”

Lanao del Sur Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong underscored the seriousness of issuing subpoenas, noting that they are reserved for uncooperative individuals who dismiss the authority of the House.

“Well, I’m not a lawyer but as lawyers say, ‘flight is an admission of guilt,’ isn’t it? We only issue subpoenas if the respondent is uncooperative, if continuously dismissing the power of the House of Representatives as granted by the Constitution,” Adiong said.

He emphasized that the hearing provides the ideal opportunity for individuals or organizations to defend themselves against allegations of violations they may have committed.

“This is a perfect way for the Pastor to really share his piece to the public. Because he has to defend, I think, the SMNI franchise. I would like to reiterate, we don’t take issuance of subpoena lightly. We only issue subpoenas if there is a deliberate dismissal or rejection or ignoring of the invitation of the HOR,” Adiong said.

“That’s the last recourse and his presence is very, very vital in the ongoing committee hearings to see the whole picture that pertains to issues on alleged violations of SMNI,” he added.

Aside from its failure to adhere to the terms of its congressional franchise, SMNI faces allegations of spreading fake news and engaging in red-tagging.

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