Quiboloy will face justice – US government

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Quiboloy will face justice � US government
n a media conference on Wednesday, Senator Risa Hontiveros issued a statement on the House of Representatives' issuance of subpoena to Kingdom of Jesus Christ head Apollo Quiboloy.
Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — As Apollo Quiboloy announced he was going into hiding, the United States embassy in Manila expressed confidence yesterday that the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) will face justice for heinous crimes.

Quiboloy, self-proclaimed “appointed son of God,” accused the US government  and Philippine government officials of plotting to “eliminate” him through “rendition” in connection with multiple criminal cases he is facing in the US.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in the US District Court for the Central District of California in Santa Ana, California, for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; sex trafficking of children; conspiracy and bulk cash smuggling.

On Nov. 10, 2021, a federal warrant was issued for his arrest.

“For more than a decade, Apollo Quiboloy engaged in serious human rights abuses, including a pattern of systemic and pervasive rape of girls as young as 11 years old, and he is currently on the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)’s Most Wanted List,” US embassy spokesperson Kanishka Gangopadhyay said in a statement yesterday.

Citing unnamed sources, Quiboloy accused the US of offering a $2-million reward for his arrest.

The FBI said it is not aware of any bounty for Quiboloy’s arrest, but confirmed an active warrant for the religious leader.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have issued subpoenas for Quiboloy to appear in their investigations on the allegations against him.

Following the development, Sen. Risa Hontiveros warned Quiboloy that he could face an arrest order from the Senate if he snubs the next hearing into the alleged abuses within the Kingdom of Jesus Christ ministry.

At a press briefing yesterday, Hontiveros said now that Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri signed the release of the subpoena against Quiboloy, the controversial pastor is expected to attend the resumption of her hearing on March 5 into allegations he sexually abused former ministry members.

Quiboloy will be given a chance to respond to allegations hurled against him by former members that they were raped and forced to beg in the streets to fund the church and his lifestyle, according to Hontiveros.

If Quiboloy snubs the March 5 hearing for the third time, Hontiveros vowed to issue the arrest order against him and tap agencies to enforce it.

“If he snubs the subpoena, our next step is to cite him in contempt and order his arrest. The committee will also feel able to ask the assistance of the Philippine National Police,” Hontiveros said.

The senator trusted Zubiri to sign the arrest order for release the same way he signed the subpoena, even though the word war with the House of Representatives delayed its release for the second hearing.

“Pastor Quiboloy still enjoys his constitutional rights despite the investigation. But as a citizen facing serious accusations against him, he should no longer play the victim here,” Hontiveros said.

Speaker’s advice

Meanwhile, Speaker Martin Romualdez advised the beleaguered Quiboloy to face the charges against him, both here and in the US, as the former denied the pastor’s insinuations that the government has conspired with Washington.

“We encourage Pastor Quiboloy to address his legal challenges through the proper legal channels and respect the legal processes in place,” Romualdez said in a statement.

“The claims of connivance with foreign entities for illicit activities are unfounded and divert attention from the serious legal matters at hand,” he added.

The Speaker nevertheless said he perfectly understood the quagmire that Quiboloy is in, borne out of the “gravity of the accusations he faces on the international stage, specifically from the FBI.”

Romualdez clarified to the influential pastor that as government officials, he and President Marcos “operate within the bounds of our Constitution and laws.”

“We are committed to upholding the rule of law and ensuring the safety and security of all individuals, without exception,” Romualdez said.

“Our focus remains on serving the Filipino people and fostering relationships that benefit our nation, devoid of any engagement in criminal activities. As public servants, we are dedicated to transparency, integrity and the welfare of our country,” he added.

The Speaker affirmed that government officials “remain steadfast in their duties and responsibilities to the Filipino people and will not be swayed by baseless accusations.”

“We advise the public to remain discerning of information and trust in the processes that uphold justice and democracy in our nation,” he said.

No  PNP raid

There is no order to raid Quiboloy’s residence, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said yesterday.

In an audio recording released yesterday, Quiboloy said that the US, with the help of the Philippine government, is planning to eliminate him through rendition.

Rendition is a legal procedure wherein a suspected criminal is sent to another country to be interrogated or detained.

Sought for comment, PNP public information chief Col. Jean Fajardo said they have no idea where Quiboloy got his information.

“We don’t know where Quiboloy’s statements came from, and they are his own words, but on the part  of the PNP, there is no order for any surveillance or raid,” Fajardo said in a phone interview.

She added there is also no instruction to monitor Quiboloy’s followers in Davao City.

The KOJC is situated on the Tamayong Prayer Mountain, an eight-hectare property in Davao City’s Calinan District, which Quiboloy calls the Garden of Eden Restored. – Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Delon Porcalla, Emmanuel Tupas

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