DAVAO CITY(MindaNews/24 August)—Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and self-proclaimed “Appointed Son of God,” was behind the burning of 13 houses recently in Tugbok District here, various groups alleged on Thursday.
Pastor Jayme Jurie, secretary general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, challenged in a press conference the local government unit to immediately address the demands of fire victims in Tugbok’s Sitio Papag in Manuel Gianga village.
Karapatan, along with the PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao, Kahugpongan sa mga Lumad sa Manuel Guinga and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, called for the victims’ relief and safety.
“There is a difference between accidental and intentional burning),” Jurie told reporters in Cebuano, adding that based on reports, it was purportedly perpetrated by employees of Quiboloy.
The Bagobo K’lata tribe also accused Quiboloy as behind the fire incident that razed 13 houses last August 15, its leader, Jonas Diarog, said in the same press conference.
Diarog also told reporters that those behind the burning allegedly worked for Quiboloy.
In a statement, PASAKA said that before the fire incident, the village people received threats, adding that Quiboloy already acquired the land and that they are no longer allowed to farm or live there.
Diarog said the tribesmen’s houses were burned down to drive them out and make way for the expansion of Quiboloy’s “prayer mountain” in Sitio Kahusayan, where more than 100,000 pine trees were planted.
He added that they used to live in Kahusayan but transferred to Sitio Papag when the supposed private army of Quiboloy displaced them so the land will be planted to pine trees.
Reacting to the accusation, Quiboloy said he instructed his lawyers to review the tribesmen’s statements, noting he just arrived from a summit in Cebu.
But he stressed that he has the legal rights to use the land because he already bought it and his legal department has the records.
Diarog pointed to the village chief, Greg Canada, as the one who told him that Quiboloy wanted to buy their land.
“They claimed that they already bought the land, but the truth is it was not bought,” Diarog said.
He said this was not the first time that the armed men allegedly under Quiboloy’s order harassed their village, citing that the killing of their tribal chieftain, Doming Diarog, on May 30, 2008 was also supposedly committed by the same party.
The murder, PASAKA said, was triggered by the chieftain’s refusal to sell their ancestral domain to Quiboloy for the extension of his prayer mountain.
He was also killed for opposing the religious group’s alleged illegal fencing of their land used for subsistence farming, the group added.
PASAKA said the Bagobo K’lata tribe has lived in the mountain since the 1960s. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)