MANILA – The release of a wanted poster for Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder Pastor Apollo Quiboloy is not related to the upcoming Philippine elections, the US Embassy in Manila said Wednesday.
This comes after Quiboloy’s lawyer Atty. Ferdinand Topacio questioned the timing of the release of the poster, suggesting the global superpower may be trying to interfere in the country's upcoming elections.
“The FBI’s release of a wanted poster for Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder Pastor Apollo Quiboloy follows a multi-year effort by law enforcement. It is unrelated to the Philippines’ ongoing presidential election campaign,” the Embassy said in a statement.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation advisory, which was posted Friday (US time), Quiboloy is wanted on 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."
"Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, the founder of a Philippines-based church, is wanted for his alleged participation in a labor trafficking scheme that brought church members to the United States, via fraudulently obtained visas, and forced the members to solicit donations for a bogus charity, donations that actually were used to finance church operations and the lavish lifestyles of its leaders," the FBI said.
"Furthermore, it is alleged that females were recruited to work as personal assistants, or 'pastorals,' for Quiboloy and that victims prepared his meals, cleaned his residences, gave him massages and were required to have sex with Quiboloy in what the pastorals called 'night duty'."
The FBI said people with information on Quiboloy could contact its local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.
Also on the list for cases connected to Quiboloy were Teresita Tolibas Dandan and Helen Panilag.
Quiboloy has denied the FBI charges and likened himself to the Biblical Joseph who suffered many tribulations.
US prosecutors earlier announced sex-trafficking charges alleging that girls and young women were coerced to have sex with Quiboloy.
The 74-page indictment charges Quiboloy and other church officials, including 2 US-based church administrators, with running a sex-trafficking operation that threatened victims as young as 12 with "eternal damnation" and physical abuse.
The indictment alleges that Quiboloy and 2 other defendants recruited females aged 12 to 25 as personal assistants, or "pastorals." It said they were required to prepare Quiboloy’s meals, clean his residences, give him massages and have sex with him during what they called "night duty."
Quiboloy has warned his continued "persecution" would lead to diseases "worse than Omicron."
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has yet to receive an extradition request from the United States for Quiboloy, who was placed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “most wanted” list.
“Wala pa, Tony, Danny,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said, when asked if the government has received any extradition request for Quiboloy.
“Yun naman ay kung magbibigay ang Estados Unidos ng request. Siguro ano, dapat emphasize natin dito request ‘to, hindi ito utos, ano,” he added.
Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) officials have previously explained that the extradition process, governed by the Philippine-US Extradition Treaty, will require a formal request from the US Department of Justice, coursed through the US State Department.
The US Embassy in Manila will then relay the request to the DFA before it goes to the DOJ.
Asked how long it will take the DFA to review the extradition documents before turning these over to the DOJ, Dulay said this depends on how many documents the US will be submitting.
“Depende kasi yan sa dami ng dokumento...Siyempre hindi namin--at hindi naman namin sinasabihan sila kung gaano karami ang dokumento na dapat ipadala, pero ang sigurado diyan ay dapat kumpleto yung mga nakasaad na mga dokumento doon sa treaty.”
Dulay said that a lot of documents are required to support a country’s request for extradition.
“Katulad yan ng mga dokumento, mga pahayag at ibang impormasyon para mai-dentify yung tao at saka ma-locate yung tao na ginugusto nilang i-extradite, ano. Kasama din diyan actually meron pang mga batas and facts--yung facts ng case, yung batas that is applicable to the person sought to be extradited,” he explained.
“Lahat yun isasama mo so kung baga…parang isang malaking bookbind--bookbound folder na ito, nang kasama na lahat ng mga impormasyon doon.”
“At alam mo, hindi ko naman pupuntuhan lang sa isang tao, kundi as a normal procedure, for extradition, dapat ito ay magbibigay sila ng tinatawag na evidence sufficient to establish a probable cause.”
“So ganoon kabigat yung dapat na dokumento na ipadala nila sa atin kasama ng kanilang request for extradition,” he added.
Dulay also said that Quiboloy’s close ties to President Rodrigo Duterte won’t affect the way they process an extradition request for him.
“Alam mo kami, we always implement it naman objectively ‘no, color-blind kami as to the whatever political implications, if they have, kasi naman, required naman talaga kami na color-blind kami ano, because we are following the treaty,” he said.
“Simple naman yung treaty, malinaw naman yung nakasulat doon so ang trabaho naman talaga ng Department of Foreign Affairs, true to its mandate, is to process it according to the treaty. Yun lang ang talagang trabaho namin,” he stressed.
Dulay added, “Pag hindi natin ginawa nang maayos ‘to, we will lose our credibility in the international community pagdating sa mga enforcement of treaties. Mahirap naman yon.”
--TeleRadyo, 8 February 2022