Manila: Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, the self-proclaimed “appointed son of God’’ and influential head of a religious sect based in the southern Philippine city of Davao, has appeared late on Monday (February 7, 2022) on the “Most Wanted by the FBI” list.
Quiboloy is the self-proclaimed “Owner of the Universe”, in command of a huge Philippine-based sect with members in and outside the country.
'Labor, sex trafficking scheme, sham marriages'
On February 7, 2022, the FBI published on its official Twitter feed the bulletin on Quiboloy "for his role in a labor & sex trafficking scheme that brought victims to America, and among other things, forced them to solicit donations for a bogus charity & enter into sham marriages."
The “FBI Most Wanted” is the agency’s official handle on the microblogging platform, where people can also submit tips.
Wanted posters were also issued by the FBI for Teresita Dandan and Helen Panilag — identified as top officials of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC) — which Quiboloy founded in 1985.
On its website, the FBI’s (http://www.fbi.gov) states Quiboloy “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 site added: “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 [him] in what the pastorals called ‘night duty.’”
Quiboloy is the head of the "Kingdom of Jesus Christ” sect in the Philippines and hails from Davao City, where Quiboloy is thought to be currently staying.
Quiboloy is an influential figure. He as recently endorsed the candidacy of presidential contender Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his vice presidential running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the President’s daughter, who are running in the May 9, 2022 general elections.
What Quiboloy’s laywer said
In a statement to the local media, Quiboloy’s legal counsel, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, questioned the timing of the announcement, pointing out that the federal jury indictment was made on November 10, 2021, at which point a warrant was already issued.
Topacio's online press conference was aired over Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the media arm of Quiboloy's sect. It was also streamed through Quiboloy's Facebook page, which has more than 1 million followers.
Topacio said the FBI’s publication of a “wanted” poster was meant to humiliate the head and founder of the religious sect.
“There’s no need to ask the public for information regarding Pastor Quiboloy’s whereabouts because [he] is not in hiding. [One] must be hiding under [a] rock not to know where the pastor is,” he told local media. He added that Quiboloy was just in Davao City and could still be seen live on TV.
However, Topacio stressed that they would wait for the extradition process to take its course, instead of Quiboloy voluntarily facing trial in the US.
“Everyone knows there’s a process for extradition. I think [the release of the poster] is merely designed to humiliate and embarrass the pastor. This is a very despicable act,” Topacio said.
In November, Quiboloy warned of a “much worse than Omicron virus” if his “persecution” is not stopped.
The sect leader branded the accusations against him as the “biggest assault and fire of persecution” that “maligned” his reputation.
Quiboloy declared during during a service in Davao City that there will be a rise of “flesh-eating bacteria immune to any vaccine” that will afflict his alleged “persecutors”.
'Sex trafficking of girls as young as 12'
In November 2021, a US federal grand jury indicted Quiboloy and his officials for the sex-trafficking of girls as young as 12, for forcing young women to have sex with him under threat of “eternal damnation,” as well as immigration offenses.
Quiboloy is said to be holed up in his safe haven in Davao. He branded the charges as lies instigated by the “Devil.” Among assets of Quiboloy's sect include a 75,000-seat indoor stadium currently being built in Davao City.
There are reports of his US assets including a multi-million mansion in the rich enclave in Calabasas, California, luxury cars, and an $18 million private plane. The Los Angeles branch of KOJC alone collected some $20 million in donations from 2014 to mid-2019, according to authorities.
According to the Philippines' Department of Justice (DOJ), the Manila government may opt to “temporarily surrender” Quiboloy if the US seeks his extradition. It was not immediately clear if such a request has been made.
Philippine Justice Secretary, Menardo Guevarra, earlier issued a statement pointing out that extraditing any Filipino national to a foreign country must be done in accordance with due process.
Guevarra had said that there would be no special treatment for Quiboloy and that the Department of Justice, “will perform its mandate under the law, regardless of the persons involved.”