MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said gifts from his close friend, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ sect, led to allegations of graft against him.
In an interview with Quiboloy on SMNI channel, Duterte said that after he received a house from the pastor, his critics like former senator Antonio Trillanes accused him of anomalous transactions.
Duterte argued that the house he received from the sect leader when he was mayor of Davao City is not yet technically his since his supposed agreement with Quiboloy was he will only own the house after he retires from politics.
"Yung bahay na binigay mo na sabi mo, 'Pag retire mo, may matirhan ka.' 'Yan 'yung sabi mo nung gabing 'yun na dinala mo ko du'n," he told Quiboloy.
(You said the house will be given to me when I retire. That's what you said that night when you brought me there.)
The President said he will live there after his term ends in 2022.
Quiboloy defended his gifts to Duterte, saying they were out of "friendship."
"Sila naman sinasabi, graft. Sabi ko, 'Ano naman klaseng mga tao 'to? May puso ba kayo? Our mayor [then] is doing his job and never think of himself,'" he said.
(They say it's an act of graft. For me, what kind of people are they? Do you have a heart?)
Duterte, before he assumed the presidency in 2016, admitted receiving expensive gifts from his decades-old friend, including properties and cars as Davao mayor.
Under Presidential Decree No. 46, it is punishable by law "for any public official or employee, whether of the national or local governments, to receive, directly or indirectly, and for private persons to give, or offer to give, any gift, present or other valuable thing on any occasion, including Christmas, when such gift, present or other valuable thing is given by reason of his official position."
Quiboloy, the self-proclaimed "appointed son of God," rose to national prominence just as Duterte took power.
The two earlier allegedly had a spat after the President reportedly refused to accept the pastor's help in selecting Cabinet members.
They mended ties reportedly after the 2019 midterm elections.