MANILA— The Philippine government said on Friday it would "cooperate" if the United States seeks the extradition of President Rodrigo Duterte's friend and adviser pastor Apollo Carreon Quiboloy over sex-trafficking charges.
US prosecutors on Thursday alleged girls and young women were coerced to have sex with Quiboloy, founder of a church called Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The sex-trafficking operation allegedly threatened victims as young as 12 with "eternal damnation" and physical abuse if they refused to do "night duty" for the pastor..
“Ang bansang Pilipinas naman po ay laging nagko-cooperate pagdating sa extradition or processes of extradition,” said Duterte’s acting spokesman Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
“We will cooperate if magkaroon man ng ganyan (extradition request). Kung sino man ‘yan, magko-cooperate po ang Pilipinas,” he said in a press briefing.
(The Philippines always cooperates when it comes to extradition or processes of extradition. We will cooperate if there is an extradition request. Whoever that concerns, the Philippines will cooperate.)
But Nograles said the extradition issue was still “speculative.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said his agency "has not received any request for extradition" from its US counterpart or Washington's State Department.
"No sex trafficking charges have been filed or are pending in the Philippines against Pastor Apollo Quiboloy involving the same factual circumstances as those in the recent US indictment," Guevarra said.
"A complaint for rape, however, was filed against him last year in Davao City, but the same was dismissed. That dismissal is now on appeal with the DOJ," he added.
Asked whether or not Quiboloy would remain as Duterte's spiritual adviser, Nograles said, “With regard to mga personal relationships ni Pangulo with other people… hayaan na lang po natin si Pangulo magsalita tungkol d’yan.”
(Let us just wait for the President to speak about that.)
“Hintayin na lang po natin na dumaan sa proseso,” he said of the pastor's indictment.
(Let us just wait for it to go through the process.)
The 74-page indictment against Quiboloy charges other church officials, including 2 US-based church administrators.
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles said the new indictment expanded on allegations made last year against 3 church administrators based in the city. It charges 9 defendants with participating in a scheme in which church members were brought to the United States using fraudulently obtained visas and forced to solicit donations to a bogus children's charity.
Prosecutors said the donations were used to pay for "lavish lifestyles" of the church leaders.
The latest indictment adds Quiboloy and 5 other new defendants to an existing indictment filed in 2020. Prosecutors said US authorities arrested 3 of the new defendants on Thursday, but 3 others, including Quiboloy, were believed to be in the Philippines.
— With a report from Reuters