Members ask Duterte to reconsider closure of Kapa-Community Ministry

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines –  Some 50,000 member-donors of the embattled Kabus Padatoon (Kapa) Community International Ministry attended a rally here Thursday, June 13, in support of their founder Pastor Joel Apolinario and the investment scheme he established.

But in a speech at the Lagao Gymnasium here, President Rodrigo Duterte stood pat in his earlier claim that Kapa was a swindling scam.

Duterte was in this city to distribute land titles to farmers.

“Believe me because I am a lawyer, if indeed that's for real, I will be the one to tell you go ahead, and I'd even join my self. But don’t get involved in that because that's a scam,” said Duterte.

Not far from the Lagao Gymnasium, police estimated that more than 50,000 members of Kapa were gathered at the Acharon Sports Complex. Most of them agitated.

Kapa describes itself as an investment program which asks members to contribute a “donation or love offering.” For the smallest amount allowed of P5,000, Kapa promises a monthly return of 30% for life.

Apolinario claims Kapa has as many as 5 million member-donors.

Kapa started operations 3 years ago in Bislig, Surigao del Sur and expanded across Mindanao before reaching the Visayas and Luzon.

Maroon helicopter

Apolinario arrived at the Acharon Sports Complex in a maroon helicopter around 5 pm Thursday. He told the crowd that President Duterte already assured him that Kapa would continue to operate as long as it complied with government regulations.

Just across the city though, in the Lagao Gym, Duterte said he ordered the arrest of Apolinario and the officers of Kapa.

Oblivious to Duterte’s statements, the Kapa members roared in jubilation when they heard what Apolinario said on stage.

Before Apolinario arrived, the Kapa members in the rally were calling on Duterte to lift the closure order of KAPA.

FLOCK. The thousands of members of Kapa Community International Ministry who joined the rally in General Santos City on June 13, 2019. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

FLOCK. The thousands of members of Kapa Community International Ministry who joined the rally in General Santos City on June 13, 2019.

Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Several investors said that they were sad over Duterte’s closure order. They said they should be given the chance to claim their money back.

Rommel Borres, a truck driver from Tacurong City, said that in January 2018, he invested his P40,000 savings in his KAPA account. He said he let his money “sleep” until May 2019.

When he heard that there was trouble brewing in Kapa, he checked his account and made a withdrawal.

"From P40,000, when I checked, it had become P120,000 with an existing interest of P36,000," Borres said.

Borres then made his first withdrawal in May 18, 2019 – the P36,000 interest. He did not touch the P120,000 in his account.

He said he was again going to withdraw money this month. The closure order made him uneasy thinking of the amount he was losing.

"What can we do, now that the government has closed down Kapa?" Borres said.

When asked by Rappler where did interest from his investment came from, Borres acknowledged that it could have came from other investors.

Kapit patalim

Rolando Templa  of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur was more frank with his answers. "This is gambling, there is nothing more to it. You give your money for a return, a much higher return than banking," Templa said.

"This is like holding on a  knife's edge. Where would people go? We have nowhere to go," Templa added.

Templa said he was aware of the risks of the scheme’s collapsing in the future.  "This is like Aman Futures, it will collapse. It is a risk, but the people have nowhere to turn to," Templa said.PLEA. Members of the Kapa Community Ministry as President Duterte to help them. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Templa was also aware that only the earlier investors would gain much while later investors would be more at risk.

Borres added that all the members had as proof of their "donation" was a small piece of paper.

Templa, Borres and the millions of Kapa investors are now unsure of where their money is as the government ordered a clampdown on KAPA office across the country.

During the rally, Apolinario said that Kapa is not a scam, "A scam is when you cannot fulfill what you promised. We have been able to fulfill our promise, so there is no scam. It's only their interpretation," Apolinario said.

"You can see here that these people here have supported me. Do you think I have scammed them? I am only supporting them so they can have better lives," Apolinario said.

Apolinario also assured the public that he would face any case filed against him or Kapa. "If there are any charges, we can see that the charges have no deep merit and we will face them and we are optimistic that KAPA would continue," Apolinario said.

In his previous statements, Duterte described Kapa as a massive swindling. "If it's too good to be true, it is really wrong, even the World Bank cannot give what you are giving," Duterte said.

Duterte said that his ordering the arrest of KAPA officials, recruiters and Apolinario was part of his job. "I implement the law, don't go there because that's swindling," Duterte said. – Rappler.com