Kapa’s political muscle

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok July 07,2019 - 07:14 AM


With 5 million members and financial muscle estimated at P50 billion, it is no surprise that controversial Kapa Community International Ministry founder Pastor Joel Apolinario is being talked about in the league of influential religious leaders like Brother Mike Velarde of El Shaddai, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Eduardo Manalo of Iglesia ni Kristo and Brother Eddie Villanueva of Jesus is Lord JIL movement.  These homegrown religious groups with sizable followings here and abroad are said to be financially robust thanks to their loyal members.

Their religious agenda is supported among others by political sympathizers and by broadcast entities (television and radio station) which enable them to preach and keep in close touch with members.

Setting up a religious media arm some 20 years ago was a massive challenge.  The aspiring broadcast owner would need to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission SEC to legitimize its corporate existence.  The next step is to secure a primary franchise from Congress, a process that would need a stalwart who will lobby for the approval of the legislative franchise.  Once the franchise is approved, the broadcast owner applies for authorization or license with the National Telecommunications Commission NTC, also called a secondary franchise.

A parallel undertaking for the broadcast owner is to acquire and assemble necessary equipment, some sourced from abroad, to push the project forward.  In other words, it is a major undertaking that requires not only a huge budget but also the necessary political connect.

A media platform is certainly the least of Pastor Apolinario’s worries at this time because he is able to speak to his followers any time he chooses to via YouTube.  In fact, after he and key officers of Kapa Ministry snubbed the preliminary hearing set by the Department of Justice on the criminal cases filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission last Thursday, he went online via YouTube to slam the Duterte administration’s “violation of human rights”.

He also denounced the DOJ order freezing the group’s assets saying, “wala nang matinong batas” (there are no decent laws) under this government. He added that he is in touch with international human rights groups who, he claimed, will look into the case because it denotes freedom of religion.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAIssoVdRmo

In the meantime, Kapa “updates” continue to assure members that its legal problems will be resolved soon in their favor.  Biblical verses like, “If God is for us, who can be against us” are also quoted as if to assuage those who believe that Pastor Apolinario will survive this legal battle.  Meanwhile, he is remains at large even if he is the subject of a police manhunt.

The case filed against Kapa is a form of economic sabotage according to SEC, and yet despite the gravity of this crime and the gall of the founder to criticize the President and the government it is surprising that nobody in Congress has seen fit to wage a full-blown inquiry in aid of legislation.  Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Committee on Economic Affairs lamely proposed to include financial literacy in the school curriculum but steered clear of the Kapa controversy.

Some quarters are saying the Kapa founder is attacking the administration in order to quiet speculations that he is being coddled by politicians closely identified with President Duterte.

Last June 18, 2019, I had the opportunity to interview Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry in the sidelines of the 2019 Cebu Business Month organized by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry CCCI.   Secretary Lopez is a fierce advocate of social enterprises and sounded upbeat during the Entrepreneurs’ Summit.  His presentation, “Ease of Doing Business: Government as Enablers,” elicited a lot of feedback from the audience.

As a fierce advocate of social enterprises I had to ask him about the rise of Ponzi schemes and pyramiding scams headlined by Kapa. His response off the cuff is, get-rich-quick schemes are fueled by man’s greed.

He stressed the need to educate people and to organize an inter-agency task force composed of SEC, DTI, NBI, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency NICA, Department of Interior and Local Government DILG, Philippine National Police and the Department of Information and Communications Technology.  Because investment scams operate in communities the way illegal drugs do, local governments should actively monitor this type of activity according to the DTI executive.

Secretary Lopez promised to raise the proposal of creating an inter agency task force to monitor, investigate and prosecute people behind pyramiding scams and Ponzi-like schemes in the next Cabinet meeting.

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