Arrest of Quiboloy church members in US meant to 'shame' religious leader: lawyer

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2020 07:18 PM

Pastor Apollo Quiboloy. file

MANILA- The arrest of 3 members of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy's Kingdom of Jesus Christ in the United States is part of a "grand conspiracy" meant to shame the church leader, his lawyer claimed Thursday.

Former members of the religious group who allegedly have an "ax to grind" with Quiboloy have supposedly conspired to file a complaint against the Davao-based religious leader, his lawyer Israelito Torreon said.

"They are into this grand conspiracy in order to put into shame Pastor Apollo Quiboloy and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ," Torreon said in a press briefing.

"We will tell them that we are ready, able, and willing to parry all of these charges. And we will show to the world that Pastor Apollo Quiboloy is innocent of the insinuations they have hurled against him," he added.

Part of the supposed conspiracy against Quiboloy is the rape complaint filed against him last year, Torreon said.

Quiboloy's church came under scrutiny anew after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested 3 administrators of his sect over allegations of a "years-long scheme" to bring full-time workers to the US under "false pretenses."

The arrested church members were identified as Guia Cabactulan, 59, a "top official" of the church who had direct communications with its Philippines' leadership; Marissa Duenas, 41, who allegedly handled immigration documents and kept the victims' passports; and Amanda Estopare, 48, who handled "financial aspects" and fundraising.

The complaint, according to the US Department of Justice, accused the trio of turning workers into fundraisers, and marrying them off to US citizen church members to keep them in the country.

It added that the three allegedly secured US visas for fellow church members and required them to solicit donations for a charity called Children's Joy Foundation USA.

"We will face these charges and we await our day in court. And we will show to the world that Pastor Apollo Quiboloy is innocent of these charges," Torreon said.

Torreon, however, noted that Quiboloy is willing to "forgive" those behind the latest case as long as they tell the truth.

"He is ready and able to forgive them if they would just do the right thing and tell the truth and nothing but the truth," Torreon said.

Malacañang distanced from Quiboloy's latest legal battle even as it stressed the need to follow the law.

Quiboloy, the self-proclaimed "Appointed Son of God," is a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“You must remember that if a crime is committed in any country, then the laws of that country will have to be followed. We have to respect them the way we ask them to respect ours,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Thursday.