(RNS) — Manny Pacquiao, the world champion boxer-turned-politician, is suing a preferred evangelist in his native Philippines for libel. The lawsuit targets Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, a preacher standard with tens of millions of Filipinos, who accused Pacquiao of embezzling public funds in constructing a sports activities advanced that has been labeled a “white elephant.”
“He used this deliberate falsehood to brainwash the minds of the Filipino public,” Pacquiao stated of Quiboloy in asserting his lawsuit, wherein he’s searching for $2 million in damages.
“He even had the audacity to cite the Holy Scripture in furtherance of his lies, deceptive his flock and complicated the general public, with the tip view of blackening (my) popularity,” the lawsuit claims.
Quiboloy is the chief pastor of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, a restorationist church in Davao Metropolis, within the southern Philippines. The church is believed to have 4 million followers within the nation and one other 2 million among the many Filipino diaspora. His followers discuss with the septuagenarian preacher as “Proprietor of the Universe” and “Appointed Son of God,” amongst different titles.
The accusations come up from Pacquiao’s function within the constructing of the Sarangani Sports activities Coaching Middle, which he sponsored as a senator. Although senators are elected at-large within the Philippines, Pacquiao was a congressional consultant for Sarangani from 2010-2016. The district typically ranks as one of many poorest areas of the Philippines.
In 2018, Pacquiao sponsored a invoice to develop the sports activities middle, and President Rodrigo Duterte signed it into regulation the next 12 months. Although the finances for the ability is 200 million Filipino pesos, a social media marketing campaign claimed that 3.5 billion pesos had been dedicated to the challenge. (An investigation by Rappler, an area media outlet, decided the upper value to be false.)
Legal professionals for Quiboloy preserve that the pastor made no particular claims and solely raised questions.
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Although he has but to formally announce his intentions, Pacquiao has emerged because the seemingly front-runner within the 2022 presidential election to succeed Duterte, who’s time period restricted.
Quiboloy is an in depth affiliate of Duterte. In the course of the latter’s 2016 presidential marketing campaign, Quiboloy loaned Duterte a non-public jet and helicopter to help his marketing campaign. All three males hail from Mindanao, the populous island within the southern Philippines, the second-largest within the nation.
Till earlier this 12 months, Pacquiao and Duterte had been shut political allies. But Pacquiao has criticized Duterte’s rapprochement with China and accused Duterte of corruption.
The rumors of malfeasance unfold wildly on-line as Pacquiao, 42, ready for his Aug. 21 combat with Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas in a welterweight world title combat. Pacquiao misplaced the combat by way of an in depth however unanimous determination. He says the accusations had been distractions however the lawsuit, in keeping with Quiboloy, could also be meant as a well-timed political counterpunch.
“The criticism of Sen. Manny Pacquiao could also be thought of as retaliatory and a political transfer on his half, contemplating that the elections is upcoming,” Dinah Marie Tolentino, Quiboloy spokesperson concerning the case, advised a Filipino media outlet.
The boxer is anticipated to return to the ring in December or January earlier than retiring from boxing to give attention to politics.