By Beting Laygo Dolor, Contributing Editor
Almost as quickly and unexpectedly as it disappeared from the airwaves, ABS-CBN reappeared over free television by piggybacking on the allotted signal of Zoe TV, the television station owned and operated by Brother Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus is Lord movement.
Villanueva, who also serves as a member of the House of Representatives while his son Joel sits in the Senate, recently finalized a deal with ABS-CBN where the shows of the shuttered Lopez-owned network would find a new home. Zoe was also renamed A2Z.
With the move, ABS-CBN recovered some of its lost ground, as the station has also become the top Philippine station broadcasting over Facebook with more than 30 million subscribers.
And while fans of the station were overjoyed at the return of their favorite news and entertainment shows, another influential religious leader was not.
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church is not happy that ABS-CBN shows are back on the air and did not hide his displeasure. The leader of the Mindanao-based church which counts President Rodrigo Duterte as one of its followers has set his sights on one popular talent, Vice Ganda.
The openly gay Ganda, considered ABS-CBN’s highest paid talent, hosts daily noontime variety show It’s Showtime while also doing movies on the side.
Quiboloy who also owns a broadcast organization known as Sonshine Media Network International, questioned why Villanueva seemed to be “espousing homosexuality and openly.”
Quiboloy then asked why Villanueva stood behind Ganda’s homosexuality “which is against the faith that you are preaching.”
To this, Villanueva replied that “Jesus Christ is not a racist, not a religious fanatic, not a political fanatic.”
Villanueva’s daughter even posted a picture over social media of the religious and political leader watching Ganda’s show.
Quiboloy and Ganda were engaged in a word war even before ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bid was rejected by the House of Representatives earlier this year.
Ganda challenged Quiboloy to end the traffic mess at EDSA, and also stop the popular TV show Ang Probinsyano. While obviously intended as a joke, Quiboloy was not pleased.
The religious leader from Mindanao who once claimed to be ruler of the universe said that radio and TV stations had a responsibility to its followers. As such, they should not accept advertising for “sin” products such as beer and alcoholic beverages.
He said his station only accepts ads for food products but never for products “that go against our principle of obedience to the will of the Father.” His church also considers homosexuality a sin.
Villanueva and Quiboloy come from widely divergent backgrounds.
Villanueva was a leftist in his younger days and was part of the underground movement that seeks to overthrow the government, until he found Jesus. The former atheist was imprisoned twice during the martial law era.
He built the Jesus is Lord movement from scratch after his release until it became one of the Philippines’ largest religious organizations.
He has not hidden his political aspirations and once ran for president.
Quiboloy, on the other hand, is a newer religious leader and has had his share of controversies, including being accused of rape by one of his former followers.
Quiboloy’s church also set up branches in the US, specifically in California and Hawaii. He is, however, unable to return to the US due to a series of cases filed against him by federal authorities.
Quiboloy’s organization has been accused of money laundering, as well as gun running. Earlier this year, his church in Los Angeles was raided by the FBI on suspicion of involvement in human trafficking. Three of the church’s leaders were arrested on immigration fraud.
Quiboloy’s church was accused of arranging sham marriages for followers in order for them to stay in the US legally.