Duterte can intervene if US files Quiboloy extradition request, says DOJ official

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2022 12:54 AM | Updated as of Feb 08 2022 01:24 AM

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MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte can intervene in the extradition of pastor Apollo Quiboloy that may be requested by the United States due to the multiple charges filed against the church leader, a justice official said on Monday.

Quiboloy, leader of the Davao City-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) church, was recently placed on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's "most wanted" list for allegations of "conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion and sex trafficking of children; sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; conspiracy; bulk cash smuggling."

The Philippines' Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier said it will handle the possible expatriation of Quiboloy according to law and the extradition treaty between Manila and Washington.

But intervention by Duterte, the pastor's longtime friend and spiritual advisee, is "always a possibility", according to chief state counsel George Ortha.

"In any nation, any administration, that's always a possibility. So it's a matter of managing it," he said in an interview with ANC's After the Fact program.

"The Executive still has the last say (on) whether to extradite the person or not (but) I would like to believe that there has to be some exceptional circumstances to warrant the non-surrender of the person who is the subject of extradition." 

Ortha cited a case wherein late last year, an extraditee's camp attempted to get Malacañang to stop his extradition but the Palace did not find any justifiable reason to intervene.

Asked how the DOJ will prevent political influence from interfering in the possible extradition of Quiboloy, Ortha said the agency "has to do its job and make sure to resolve everything based on what the law provides, based on what the treaty provides, regardless of who is the subject of the request." 

"Whether the subject is someone who is popular, someone who is very close to higher-ups, or the subject is an ordinary person, we follow the same procedure, we apply the same law," he said.

Ortho earlier said it was understandable to have doubts over the possible case, but he appealed to the public to trust the DOJ, which has yet to receive an extradition request, he added.

Last November, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said a possible extradition case against Quiboloy may have to wait since the church leader is facing a local complaint.

Quiboloy, a self-proclaimed "Owner of the Universe" and "Appointed Son of God," was indicted in the US last year, along with other members of his church for alleged sex trafficking. 

The 74-page indictment said victims involved in his alleged sex trafficking operation threatened victims as young as 12 with "eternal damnation" and physical abuse.

Quiboloy and the church's legal counsel worldwide have denied the allegations.