Quiboloy church not engaged in human trafficking: lawyer

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2018 02:53 PM | Updated as of Jan 09 2019 10:31 PM

MANILA - The lawyer of Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder Apollo Quiboloy denied Tuesday allegations that the church is involved in human trafficking in Hawaii. 

Lawyer Israelito Torreon, counsel of Quiboloy, said they have not received any notification about an ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation about the alleged trafficking links of a chapter of Quiboloy's church in Waipahu. 

"I verified the information with Pastor Quiboloy and we have not received a notice on any investigation," he told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview Tuesday. 

He said the linking of the church to human trafficking came as a shock and is not true at all. He said someone must be trying to destroy the congregation.

"That is shocking. Somebody must be orchestrating all of these. I hope that person will be enlightened by the Lord Almighty to stop this because that's really not true. The congregation of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy is a religious congregation. It is not engaged in human trafficking," he said.

A Hawaii News Now report earlier said the FBI is investigating the Quiboloy church in Waipahu for alleged human trafficking.

This, after Quiboloy and 6 other people, including business manager Felina Salinas, were briefly detained in Hawaii last February after federal agents found $350,000 in cash hidden in socks in a private plane where he was on board.

Gun parts were also reportedly found on the plane.

A complaint filed by Ann Mylene Haney, a special agent of the US Department of Homeland Security, said Salinas, a US citizen, failed to declare that she was carrying thousands of dollars "neatly bundled" in $100 bills in black socks during a flight en route to the Philippines.

A separate Hawaii News Now report also said Salinas is accused of beating up a fellow church member who claims she was forced to raise money.

Complainant Kristina Angeles said she came to Hawaii on a religious visa but was tasked to raise funds and sell "manapua and Krispy Kreme" donuts, the report said. The church's foundation, Children's Joy, was also accused of aggressive fundraising and misrepresentation. 

Torreon, who just came back from Hawaii, said the plane that was leased by Quiboloy has been released but proceedings on the charges against Salinas are ongoing.

Church founder Quiboloy is a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte. In 2016, he lent his private plane and helicopter to then then-Davao mayor for his presidential campaign. Ties between the two reportedly soured after Duterte won as president.