MANILA — The US may have to wait for the possible extradition of Apollo Quiboloy over sex trafficking charges while a local case against him is pending review in the Philippines, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.
US prosecutors earlier announced charges against the friend and spiritual adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte, alleging that girls and young women were coerced to have sex with the pastor, founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ sect.
A woman who said she was raped by Quiboloy as a minor in 2014 in the Philippines filed rape, child abuse, and human trafficking charges against him and five other church members in 2019.
Guevarra noted that the Davao City Prosecutor's Office dismissed her complaints in 2020 for supposed lack of evidence. But the woman appealed to the Department of Justice, which is now reviewing her case's dismissal, he said.
"Maaring mangyari diyan ay hindi muna itutuloy ang extradition hanggang hindi natatapos ang criminal prosecution dito sa Pilipinas kasi meron kasing offense apparently committed dito sa atin e. Kaya may karapatan din 'yung kung sino man 'yung biktima na i-prosecute 'yung kaso dito sa ating mga korte. Kaya made-defer 'yung extradition process," Guevarra told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(What might happen is the extradition will not proceed until the criminal prosecution against him here in the Philippines is not finished, since he has a case here. Whoever filed a case against him here has a right to see to his prosecution in our courts. So, the extradition process may be deferred.)
He said the DOJ's review of the woman's case dismissal might be "resolved pretty soon."
Guevarra said his agency has yet to receive an extradition request for Quiboloy from US authorities through the Department of Foreign Affairs, who will endorse it to the DOJ if requirements are met.
The DOJ then will review if the request is aligned with the Philippines' extradition pact with the US, which has another principle of delivering wanted persons to either country.
"Ayon din sa ating treaty with the US, pwede rin naman kung ire-request ng US government na 'hiramin' muna 'yung proposed extraditee, kung sino man siya, para iharap dun sa kanilang sariling prosecution sa US. Kapag natapos na nila 'yung prosecution nila sa US, ibabalik nila dito sa Pilipinas para matuloy naman o matapos 'yung ating sariling court proceeding," he said.
(Based on our treaty with the US, the US government can "borrow" the proposed extraditee, whoever he is, so he can face his own prosecution in the US. When they finish their prosecution in the US, they can send him back here in the Philippines so we can continue and finish our own court proceeding.)
"Nasa discretion na natin kung hihintayin ba natin 'yung kabilang side ... or 'ipahiram' muna namin sa inyo."
(We have the discretion if we will make them wait ... or let them "borrow" him.)
The KOJC, which was founded in Davao in 1985 and claims to have 6 million members worldwide, began operating Children’s Joy Foundation, which is registered in the US state of California as a foreign non-profit.
The prosecutors said Quiboloy frequently traveled to the United States to observe KOJC and CJF’s operations around February 2018.
He stayed in large residences that he controlled, including residences in Calabasas, California; Las Vegas, Nevada: and Kapolei, Hawaii, according to the indictment.
— With a report from Reuters