MANILA, Philippines — Apollo Quiboloy, spiritual advisor to President Rodrigo Duterte, has been officially declared one of the most wanted suspected sex traffickers in the United States.
United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 31 released a wanted poster seeking information leading to his arrest for “conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, and child sex trafficking; sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; conspiracy; bulk money smuggling.
Separate wanted notices have been posted for Teresita Dandan and Helen Panilag, two senior leaders of the religious sect Quiboloy founded in 1985, Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC). According to US federal authorities, Quiboloy, Dandan and Panilag are all in the Philippines.
There was no comment on Saturday from Dr. Marlon Rosete, spokesperson for Quiboloy.
Quote from “Romans”
But in a statement on Friday, Quiboloy called all the charges against him “devil-instigated” lies.
Quoting a Bible verse, Romans 8:35, he said, “If we talk about persecution and accusation, Satan has thrown everything at me. But has the diamond been shaken? Has the gold been shaken? No!” he said.
Quiboloy said he never defended himself against the charges.
“Why? If you are gold, even if you are thrown into the mud, if you are a diamond and you are thrown into the mud and sink in it, will you turn into mud yourself? No You stay gold, you stay diamond. You don’t have to prove you’re gold, you’re diamond,” he said.
Quiboloy has no wife or children, according to his loyal followers. What he has are ‘spiritual wives’, according to former church members who have filed charges against him.
The FBI released the wanted list nearly three months after Quiboloy and his top aides were indicted by a US federal grand jury in California for allegedly forcing girls and young women to have sex with him for save from “eternal damnation”.
“(I)t is alleged that women were recruited to work as personal, or ‘pastoral’, assistants for Quiboloy and that (the) victims cooked his meals, cleaned his residences, gave him massages and must have had sex with Quiboloy in what the pastorals called ‘night duty’,” according to the FBI wanted notice.
“If you have any information regarding this individual, please contact your local FBI office or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate,” he said.
The FBI said Quiboloy is also known by his “aliases” as “God’s Designated Son”, “Sir”, “Pastor” and “ACQ”.
He was allegedly involved in “labour trafficking” which brought members of his church to the United States on “fraudulently obtained visas” and coerced into soliciting donations for a bogus charity.
He said the money they raised was spent on KOJC’s operations and the “lavish lifestyles of its leaders”.
“Members who successfully solicited for the church would have been forced into sham marriages or obtained fraudulent student visas to continue soliciting in the United States year-round,” the FBI said.
Malacañang remained silent on the FBI’s decision and the charges against Quiboloy.
Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his running mate Sara Duterte, the president’s daughter and mayor of Davao, did not respond to requests for comment.
Quiboloy endorsed Team Marcos-Duterte and his Senate roster during the send-off ceremony for their nationwide “Mahalin Natin Ang Pilipinas Ride” caravan, held at his church compound in Davao City earlier this this month.
No request yet
Also present at the event were Mayor Duterte and two of the team’s senatorial candidates, former senator Jinggoy Estrada and former presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Saturday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not received a formal request for the extradition of Quiboloy and his associates from US authorities.
He said surrendering a Filipino national to a foreign authority should not be done motu proprio, or automatically, by the Philippine government. It must be channeled through the appropriate diplomatic channels, he said.
“The process is governed by the extradition treaty between the Philippines and the United States. The US State Department makes the extradition request,” Guevarra told reporters.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) would review the “sufficiency” of the extradition request before recommending it to the DOJ, which would then file a formal extradition request in a Philippine court based on the US government’s request.
“The rest of our legal process, including appeals, follows,” Guevarra said.
Extradition should be a “summary process” because Philippine courts are “not supposed to try US criminal charges here”, he explained.
There were extradition cases that reached the Supreme Court, but they were eventually implemented, he said.
When asked if the DOJ would issue a travel bulletin to monitor Quiboloy’s movement, Guevarra said the DOJ would investigate the legal basis for this as there was still no extradition request from the United States. .
“I’m sure the FBI knows where Quiboloy is,” the justice secretary said. “I’m also sure the FBI knows the proper legal process to allow the US court system to gain jurisdiction over (Quiboloy).”
Heather Fabrikant, spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Manila, declined to comment on Quiboloy’s possible extradition, saying the FBI was the appropriate agency to answer questions about it.
—WITH REPORTS BY LEILA B. SALAVERRIA and GERMELINA LACORTE
Palace postpones the FBI raid on the Quiboloy Church in the United States
Palace mum on Quiboloy’s connection to confiscated dollars
TO KNOW: Who is Apollo Quiboloy?
To subscribe to MORE APPLICANT to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to news, download as early as 4am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.