EDITORIAL - Just face the music

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL  - Just face the music

The best and quickest way to prove one’s innocence is to face one’s accusers and answer formal charges before an official venue. Flight is always seen in this country as an indication of guilt. Apollo Quiboloy can bear this in mind as he goes into hiding ostensibly because of threats to his life.

In fact the most immediate threat to Quiboloy is arrest for contempt of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The senate wants the leader of the religious group Kingdom of Jesus Christ and its media arm Sonshine Media Network International to answer accusations by several KOJC members that they suffered sexual abuse within the group, physical abuse by Quiboloy as well as labor exploitation in SMNI. House members, meanwhile, are investigating SMNI for alleged violations of its franchise.

In February 2022, Quiboloy was placed on the most wanted list of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation following his indictment before the US District Court in Santa Ana, California for “conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion and sex trafficking of children; sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; conspiracy, and bulk cash smuggling.” The FBI wanted poster said “it is alleged that females were recruited to work as personal assistants, or ‘pastorals,’ for Quiboloy and that victims prepared his meals, cleaned his residences, gave him massages and were required to have sex with Quiboloy in what the pastorals called ’night duty.’”

A US federal warrant for Quiboloy’s arrest was issued on Nov. 10, 2021. But there was no request for the extradition of the pastor, a major supporter and spiritual adviser of then president Rodrigo Duterte. Quiboloy has been moving freely around the country, and has often been seen in the company of Duterte.

The pastor who is wealthy enough to tool around in his own private jet is known to travel with a coterie of bodyguards, and he is surely no stranger to death threats. So why has he suddenly decided to go into hiding? Because of the timing, the inevitable suspicion is that he simply wants to avoid congressional grilling, and a possible arrest and detention for contempt.

If he doesn’t want to face accusations against him in the Philippines, he should just be turned over to the US, where he faces serious indictments that can put him away for life if guilt is established.

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