Broadcaster, jailed Kapa boss join 2022 Senate race
MANILA, Philippines — A former senator, a popular broadcaster, and a self-proclaimed spiritual leader detained for allegedly running an investment scam have joined the senatorial race with the filing of their respective certificates of candidacy (COC) on Saturday.
Among the day’s aspirants, it was founder Joel Apolinario, founder of the Kapa Community Ministry International, who drew the biggest surprise as he had been in detention on charges of syndicated estafa since last year.
Apolinario’s representatives filed his COC at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza hotel in Pasay City, where the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set up a crowd-restricted center for the filing period, which began on Friday and will end on Oct. 8.
The Kapa founder was arrested in July 2020 at a beach resort in Surigao del Sur, after a gunfight with the police that ended in two of his supporters getting killed.
In 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked Kapa’s registration and filed charges of violating the Securities Regulation Code against Apolinario and his cohorts, after the corporate regulator found that they were selling securities “in a manner resembling a Ponzi scheme.”
That same year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a raid on Kapa’s offices in General Santos City, Tagum City, Tacloban City, and other locations in the Visayas and Mindanao.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) charged him with syndicated estafa in January last year. Apolinario was arrested six months later.
In March this year, the Court of Appeals upheld the SEC’s findings against Kapa, affirming that “it committed serious acts of misrepresentation to the prejudice of the general public by soliciting investments in the guise of a donation with a promise of a 30-percent return of profits every month.”
But unless convicted, Apolinario is still allowed by law to run for public office.
Also on Saturday, apparently banking on his sizable following on TV, radio, and the internet, broadcaster Raffy Tulfo filed his COC for senator.
Accompanied by his wife, ACT-CIS Rep. Jocelyn Tulfo, he said he was running as an independent so as not to be beholden to any political group.
Tulfo said several groups had invited him to join them, including the respective camps of two presidential aspirants, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao.
“I respectfully declined their invitations because I want to be independent so that my loyalty will be to the people and not to any political party,” said Tulfo, whose YouTube channel has nearly 28 million subscribers.
If elected to the Senate, he said, he would revisit laws that favored the rich over the poor, as he quoted President Ramon Magsaysay’s “Those who have less in life should have more in law.”
‘Keep the fight’
Former Sen. JV Ejercito, who also filed his COC for a Senate comeback, said he needed to weigh his options first after losing in his reelection bid in 2019.
Ejercito, a son of former President Joseph Estrada, said he also had to consider the announcement made early this week by his half-brother, former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, that he was also joining the senatorial race.
But Ejercito said he was counting on the support that he had been getting from various political parties.
“If all major political parties want you in their lineup, it only means they believe in my integrity, performance, and character,” Ejercito told reporters after filing his COC as a candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
According to the Comelec, the only presidential aspirant who filed his COC on the second day of the filing period was a barangay hall employee in Pasay City named Victoriano Inte.
The poll body said 19 people had so far filed their COCs for senator, while 27 groups had sought Comelec approval to be counted as party-list organizations. —WITH A REPORT FROM ARIANNE SUAREZ, INQUIRER RESEARCH
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