BAGUIO CITY-The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and the party-list group Gabriela are suing to recover a teenager from a Davao-based church, claiming that its founder has brainwashed the girl and the church’s other underaged devotees.
The human rights lawyers represent Erlinda Rillon, the girl’s mother, who complained before the city council in February about the alleged detention of her 19-year-old daughter Arlene by church leaders based in Mindanao.
In their May 5 petition for habeas corpus, FLAG is enjoining Apollo Quiboloy, founder and chair of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Other Name, Inc., to release Arlene from his custody and to return her to her mother.
This is the second habeas corpus suit filed by Rillon against Quiboloy and the Kingdom from Baguio.
Judge Clarence Villanueva of the regional trial court here dismissed the first petition on a technicality because Arlene was no longer a minor when it was filed.
Villanueva [filed] an affidavit indicating her decision to stay with Quiboloy’s church in Mindanao. But she left home in 2004 when she was still 18 years old, to join a Kingdom-sponsored youth camp.
Arlene surfaced over ACQ-TV Q channel, a cable television station owned by Quiboloy-first to declare her intention to join the ministry in Davao on May 9, 2004, and again in February this year, to denounce an Inquirer report about her detention.
But FLAG lawyer Richard Cari¤o, a former city councilor, and Gabriela lawyers Alexander Bangsoy and Cheryl Daytec-Yangot, now contend that Arlene “has been programmed by [the church] and her mind is being controlled by… Quiboloy.”
“Even if Arlene is no longer a minor, she is no longer capable of making decisions which are the product of her consent as her will has been subverted. She has been programmed to follow the commands of the Kingdom’s leaders,” the petition said.
The lawyers said they will present to the court several witnesses, “who can establish that Arlene is being held against her will.”
One witness, the petition said, will testify “that Arlene was [allegedly] forced to join the ministry on a full-time basis,” and that she reportedly now handles the cleaning of Quiboloy’s quarters.
The lawyers referred to a young man, “who escaped from the Kingdom… and who has confirmed that there are several young people being detained… with the use of mind control.”
“Quiboloy and members of the Kingdom use the Bible and select verses to keep the young people under their influence to ‘deny yourselves for God’s kingdom.'”