MANILA — Sen. Manny Pacquiao is considering to withdraw his motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of the cyber libel charges he filed against Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, to give way to the latter's possible extradition to the United States, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Atty. Nikki de Vega said it is more important for the senator, who is running for President this year, "to bring justice to the victims of heinous crimes" allegedly committed by Quiboloy, based on complaints filed against him in the US.
“We are also considering withdrawing our motion so that the US government, through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, can properly facilitate the extradition and arrest of Apollo Quiboloy, in relation to his sex trafficking case in the US,” she said in a statement.
“According to Sen. Manny, it is more important to bring justice to the victims of heinous crimes. Maraming nasirang buhay ang kailangan bigyan ng katarungan. Narito si Sen. Manny upang itaguyod ang karapatan nang mga bata at babaing naaapi,” she added.
The self-proclaimed “Appointed Son of God," who is a friend and spiritual adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte, was indicted on sex trafficking charges in the US in November.
US prosecutors alleged that Quiboloy and other church officials of Kingdom of Jesus Christ ran a sex-trafficking operation that threatened victims as young as 12 with "eternal damnation" and physical abuse.
The US has yet to request for Quiboloy's extradition.
The Makati City Prosecutor's Office dismissed the P100-million cyber libel complaint Pacquiao filed against the Davao City-based religious leader last year.
The complaint stemmed from Quiboloy’s allegations during his televised program that Pacquiao pocketed funds from his sports center project in Sarangani province.
In her video statement, De Vega noted the prosecutor's office dismissed the cyber libel complaint "even without a counter-affidavit from Apollo Quiboloy.”
“While we respect the decision of the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office, we respectfully disagree. A distinction must be made between mere criticism and the proliferation of fake news," she said.
De Vega said a motion for reconsideration has already been filed "to remedy this injustice".
"Ang laban na ito ni Senator Manny ay para sa ating mga kababayan na biktima nang fake news at pinagkaitan nang hustisya. Nawa'y magsilbi itong inspirasyon sa ating kababayan na patuloy na ipaglaban ang katotohanan at hindi magpa-supil sa mga makapangyarihan," she added.
(This battle by Sen. Manny is for our fellow countrymen who are victims of fake news and who have been deprived of justice. May this inspire our people to continue fighting for the truth and resist being suppressed by those in power.)
In a statement issued on the Quiboloy-owned SMNI News, the televangelist said he was elated with the dismissal of the cyber libel case.
"Indeed, truth and justice has prevailed," he said.
—With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News