MANILA — Taking a firm stand against the proliferation of fake news, Senator Manny Pacquiao filed a P100 million libel and cyber-libel case against the self-proclaimed “Owner of the Universe” and “Appointed Son of God” Apollo Quiboloy at the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office Tuesday, 14 Sept. 2021).
Pacquiao’s legal action stemmed from a television and social media post made by Quiboloy, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s spiritual adviser and owner of Sonshine Media Network International, where he claimed that the senator misused funds for the unfinished Sarangani Sports Training Center that eventually became a “white elephant.”
Quiboloy also allegedly claimed that the project had cost the government P3.5 billion as he showed pictures of dilapidated bleachers and overgrown grass.
In a 13-page complaint, Pacquiao said that Quibuloy should pay 100 million in damages plus attorney’s fees for “using his power and influence to spread fake news and false information.”
“He used this deliberate falsehood to brainwash the minds of the Filipino public, recklessly propagating lies to blacken the image and reputation of an honest public servant. He even had the audacity to quote the Holy Scripture in furtherance of his lies, misleading his flock, and confusing the public, with the end in view of blackening another’s reputation,” the complaint said.
“His statements, as outlined below, are far from hollow. They are criminal in nature and cannot go unpunished,” it added.
Pacquiao said that prior to his trip to the United States for an international boxing match, a video was leaked to the public where he was heard complaining about the worsening corruption in the country.
The video apparently incensed President Duterte who challenged Pacquiao to prove his claim that corruption under his administration has worsened.
“My statement relating to the prevalence of corruption in the Philippines under the current administration and even at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic is based on findings from documents and information I obtained from concerned citizens. Prior to leaving for the USA for my world championship fight while representing the flag and country, I had a press conference on July 3, 2021, where I showed further proof of the prevalence of graft and corruption in this administration,” the complaint said.
Right after his press conference, Quiboloy appeared on television in SMNI and on social media where he alleged that Pacquiao embezzled public funds for the construction of the Sarangani Sports Training Center which was allegedly funded with P3.5 billion.
It turned out however that the P3.5 billion was actually appropriated for the Philippines Sports Training Center in Bataan and Pacquaio did not have anything to do with the project. The dilapidated buildings that were also shown in Quiboloy’s video were actually old facilities at the Sarangani Province Sports Complex.
If he wins the case, Pacquiao pledges to use the 100M moral damages in building homes and helping the poor Filipinos.
(Jhun Mabanag/BENJAMIN CUARESMA/ai/mtvn)