Quiboloy wields political influence on birthday bash
m26quiboloy (DAVAO CITY) – This Dabawenyo religious leader, who styles himself as “God’s appointed Son” managed to draw his crowd of local and national politicians on the celebration of his birthday Wednesday.
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s 58th birthday celebration dubbed “Sonshine Across the Land” turned out to be not just a well-wishers’ party but a roll call for those who wants his endorsement.
Senatorial bets from both the administration ticket Team Unity and the opposition’s Genuine Opposition and members of local ruling party flocked to Quiboloy’s posh seven-hectare headquarters called “prayer mountain” in upland Tamayong village in Calinan around 60 kilometers southwest of Davao City.
Quiboloy, leader of the Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name Christian group, told reporters whoever was seen in the party is a preview of the list of candidates he is endorsing, which he will release on May 6.In a press release, the group’s membership was pegged at “more than three million” nationwide and in 29 countries.
The religious leader, who gained public attention through his television ministry programs since 1991, has been endorsing national and local candidates in the last few elections, including aspiring party-list groups, said JR Narit of the church-owned Manila-based radio station DZAR Sonshine Radio.
Narit said Quiboloy backed Bayan Muna in 2004 but not anymore in these elections. “Upon knowing that its nominees were leftist leaders, he has indicated he is no longer endorsing Bayan Muna,” he said.
Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero flew in by helicopter and had lunch with Quiboloy in time for a feeding program for around 5,000 children each accompanied with a parent.
Sources inside the compound said the children were brought in batches via school busses from the Jose Maria College, owned by the religious group.
Senators Manuel Villar and former senator Loren Legarda said they just came in to greet Quiboloy. Senator Ralph Recto said he really came to seek the pastor’s endorsement.
Rector came in around 6:30p.m. and left an hour later. Villar arrived pat 7p.m., 30 minutes ahead of Legarda.
The ruling local party, led by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, canceled a rally for the party that night, said Councilor Peter Laviña.
Duterte and running mate daughter Sara arrived minutes after Hugpong bets for councilors arrived in a convoy.
Laviña said except for two members of the city council, councilors Mabel Acosta and Bonifacio Militar; the members of the city council were all present.
Councilor Leo Avila III told reporters “everybody’s endorsement is important” when asked if they were seeking Quiboloy’s endorsement.
Councilor Rene Elias Lopez, however, who is running opposite Isidro Ungab, Duterte’s bet for congressman in the third district was not around.
Quiboloy told reporters he will endorse whoever is in Duterte’s slate.
But Councilor Jimmy Dureza, who is running against Duterte’s bet re-electionist second district Rep. Vincent Garcia was present. Re-electionist House Majority Floor Leader Prospero Nograles was also not around.
Vice Mayor Luis Bonguyan defended the almost complete attendance of the councilors in the party. Reporters asked if he was okay that it will take it faster for councilors to gather together in Quiboloy’s party amid reports the passing of salient legislation like the City Shelter Code were delayed due to problems with quorum.
Bonguyan said they managed quorum but sessions after lunch was really difficult as the councilors race to the campaign trail.
Buffet dinner was opened around 7 p.m. as an ensemble played music, including children performing rondalla and violin pieces for around two hundred guests inside a classy hotel-like dining hall, in the second floor of the golf clubhousey-building called Martha’s Vineyard.
But thousands, also, ate dinner al fresco along the compounds well-landscaped pathways. A widescreen was put up outside flashing scenes from inside and out of Martha’s Vineyard.
Even businessmen and military officials, families of some candidates were in the party.
Mayor Duterte took the floor towards the end of dinner to sing Louie Ocampo’s Ikaw and Visayan ballad Matud Nila as his gift to Quiboloy.
“Thank you for being a friend to me and for being a pastor to all of us,” Duterte told Quiboloy before trying his number. Legarda then sang I won’t Last a day without you” giving in to Duterte’s request for a response.
After two violinists and a flutist performed Frank Sinatra’s Star Dust, Quiboloy delivered his message invoking his wish for unity among Filipinos thanking God and the presence of Duterte and millions of supports. He said he has dedicated his birthdays to children who are the future of the country andcited the feeding program earlier in the day nationwide.
As the party was wrapping up Ilocos Gov. Chavit Singson arrived by 10:30p.m. half an hour ahead of Surigao Rep. Prospero Pichay.
Quiboloy said when he releases his endorsement eight days before polling day it will be a mix of TU, GO and independent bets with either 8-2-2 or 7-3-2 in favor of Team Unity.
He said he supported winning candidates and favored whoever belongs to the sitting President’s party.
Quiboloy said his endorsement commands a block vote saying Kingdom citizens, as he calls his members, follow his choice of candidates during elections.
But he denied he was imposing on them. “I do not it to them. They entrust me of the choice of candidates. After I consult with them they leave to me the final decision,” he said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)