In the past few months, these were the words I often heard here in South Cotabato. Everywhere I go, whether in grocery stores, public market, public transportation, neighbors and relatives, they all talked about the ministry sent by the heavens, the Kapa Community Ministry International also known as KAPA . It is a ministry founded by Pastor Joel Apolinario. In order to become a member of this ministry, you must “donate” an amount of at least P5,000 pesos or at most P2 Million pesos. The money that you will donate will be used to propagate religious faith and to establish livelihood programs that will benefits the members. The ministry promises that if you will donate, you will receive a blessings every month equivalent to 30% of your donation.
Imagine if you donated P5,000 of your hard earned money, you are guaranteed to receive a blessing worth P1500 every month for a lifetime. The bigger money you donate, the bigger the blessing you will receive. That is why a lot of people, especially here in the South Cotabato, General Santos City and Sarangani Province area were enticed to donate to the ministry in exchange for the free money called “BLESSINGS” that they will receive forever. Everyone is very optimistic especially that they see how the first batch enjoyed their blessings.
There was a point during the prime of KAPA where I felt left out. My neighbors, relatives, friends, customers and even employees are actively participating in discussion about KAPA. Of course, I can't relate because I don't want to buy the idea of this whole “ministry” thing. I had no choice but to just be happy for them because I can feel everybody was excited with this “venture” they're all in. You know that episode in Titanic where the ship was about to leave the port and all those rich people on board are waving gladly? Of course, they're proud that they're on board the most famous and expensive ship in the world. I can feel it, not for myself, but for them who became members of the ministry They're all excited for the upcoming blessings.
And after four months, members start to enjoy the blessings they received. Different branches of KAPA have been opened from different cities in Mindanao, even in Visayas and even in Luzon. The more positive news about KAPA, the more thrilled they are about the ministry. Later on, people were too thrilled they naturally replaced the word “donations” as “investment”. And because they're too thrilled about this, they have no capacity to recognize anymore that this kind of scheme has already happened in the past. They're too thrilled to realize that the venture they're in right now is an investment scheme in the guise of ministry. But of course, who are we to question? The people I am talking here are my friends, my neighbors, my relatives. I don't want to burst their bubble, I don't want to stop the thrill, so I stayed quiet.
When everybody was enjoying the blessings, some people stopped working, grocery stores became crowded, restaurants became in demand, and economy became alive. I am lying if I'll say I didn't benefit from the Euphoria the members had experienced. Sales from my diner have increased, friends shared to me their “blessings” in the form of treats, and relatives gave money. It's nice to see people are happy, they eat want they want to eat, they buy what they want to buy and they enjoy the blessings they received from the ministry. At this point, nobody bothered where the money came from. As long as they have cash every month, no buts, no ifs, no questions.
During the interview of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy to President Rodrigo Duterte, he opened up about the status of KAPA Ministry and started questioning the legalities of the operation. President Rodrigo Duterte, right there and then, ordered the authorities to inspect not only KAPA but other investment schemes that sprouted like mushrooms especially in the Mindanao area. I saw the horror in the eyes of the members of the ministry. I can sense anxiety and they started hating the President and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy. Everybody was worried, including those members who pretended they're not.
After the raid of different branches all over the Philippines, the ministry announced temporary closure of 10 days. In the hope to revive the operation of the ministry, members gathered for a prayer rally to show support to KAPA. Members are in denial that the beloved ministry is actually a ponzi scheme. Try branding KAPA as a ponzi scheme and you will be bashed by angry members who can't accept the fact that this operation is not legal. But then again, we don't want to add insult to the injury, so I treated this as a sensitive issue to discuss.
Now that KAPA is under scrutiny and ordered to be shut down, members are now afraid of the future. What will happen next without KAPA? Can they still get their investments? Can they keep up to the lifestyle they established with the free money they received from the ministry? How about those who sold properties just to invest? Those who applied for loans so they can donate the money? Do they have the right to take back something that they have donated? Will Pastor Apolinario fight with them to reestablish the ministry? I can sense fear, and it doesn't feel good.
As of now, people are speculating. Some said Duterte has made a decision to permanently close KAPA. Others said Duterte has granted permit to continue the operation of the ministry. Where will this KAPA-serye take us? Will this cause panic, capitulation and despair? Or hope, relief and optimism? No one knows actually. All I know is, the people who invested what little amount in their pocket, are the real victims here. I just so hope that they will get the justice they deserve, or if not, a moral lesson paid by a very expensive tuition fees.