By Beting Laygo Dolor
President Rodrigo Duterte’s personal pastor and biggest financial supporter, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, claims to have the power to stop and start earthquakes, among his many extraordinary abilities.
Following a series of devastating quakes that shocked Mindanao in the last couple of weeks, Quiboloy told media that he commanded that tremors to stop.
During his TV show last week, he said, “I said ‘earthquake stop!’ And it stopped.”
He said the people of the Philippines, particularly from Mindanao, should thank him because his powers saved countless lives. Without his intercession, “more buildings will be destroyed. You will all die,” Quibiloy.
The day after his claim, another major temblor hit Mindanao.
He previously claimed to possess a magical machine that could control the weather. This time, no machine was needed, just his voice, if Quiboloy is to be believed.
In the last couple of weeks, magnitude 6.5 and 6.6 earthquakes have hit Mindanao, killing at least 20 and leaving scores injured, while also causing billions of pesos in damage. In the province of Davao del Sur alone, an estimated PHP1 billion (about US$20 million) in public and private properties were damaged.
More than a thousand aftershocks were felt throughout the island.
Critics slammed Duterte for failing to show up at the various sites badly damaged by the series of quakes, preferring instead to attend the ASEAN Leaders meeting in Thailand.
His absence was seen as doubly painful by Davao City residents since he was its longest serving mayor and is a permanent resident of the southern city.
Like Quiboloy, Duterte was known to be in Davao City when the second quake struck.
Unlike Duterte, however, Quiboloy was seen in Davao and addressed his followers on TV when he made the new claim of having the power to stop quakes.
Calling himself “the appointed son of God and owner of the universe,” the 69-year-old Quiboloy is head pastor of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, the Name Above Every Name, Inc. which is based in Davao City.
His church has claimed membership of over six million, including Duterte.
Because of his closeness to the President, Quiboloy is considered untouchable in the country, although not in the US where he and his church have some serious legal problems.
One of Quiboloy’s followers was apprehended in Hawaii on February 13, last year after US Customs officers found over US$300,000 hidden in her luggage in the pastor’s private jet.
Felina Salinas remains in the US where she faces federal charges of dollar smuggling. Her trial is set to begin in February, next year. If found guilty, she faces up to five years in prison.
The Quiboloy group has also been investigated by Federal authorities for suspected human trafficking as well as gun smuggling.
As far back as 2013 and 2014, Quiboloy’s church was suspected of attempting to smuggle thousands of dollars from California to the Philippines but it was only last year when one of the church leaders was caught red-handed by Federal authorities.
A former member of his church, California-based Kristina Angeles, accused the pastor of sexually abusing her but church members countered that she is an illegal immigrant who is desperate to remain in the US.
In Davao City, Quiboloy has been accused of grabbing the land of indigenous people for his church use.
The pastor is known for his extreme generosity to Duterte. He lent his jet to the then Davao mayor for use during his presidential campaign. Duterte also admitted receiving several gifts from the pastor, including cars and real property.