Apollo Quiboloy now in Davao City, not in hiding – lawyer | Inquirer News
ON FBI’S MOST WANTED LIST

Apollo Quiboloy now in Davao City, not in hiding, says lawyer

Photo for story: Apollo Quiboloy now in Davao City, not in hiding, says lawyer

Pastor Apollo Quiboloy (Photo from his Facebook account)

MANILA, Philippines — Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who was officially declared last month by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a wanted suspected sex trafficker in the United States, has not gone into hiding and remains in Davao City.

In a virtual briefing on Sunday, one of Quiboloy’s lawyers, Ferdinand Topacio, claimed that the charges against Quiboloy were part of an “orchestrated effort” to destroy him and “indirectly, the present administration….”

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According to Topacio, the FBI’s publication of a wanted poster was meant to humiliate the head and founder of the religious sect Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC), the Name Above Every Name.

“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 said, adding that Quiboloy was just in Davao City and could still be seen live on TV.

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But he brushed aside suggestions that Quiboloy should voluntarily face trial in the United States and defend himself, stressing that they would wait for the extradition process to run its course.

“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.

He also called the release of the FBI wanted poster ill-timed since it happened just before the start of the campaign period, noting that the US federal grand jury indictment and issuance of an arrest warrant for his client happened in November.

Topacio claimed there was an intent to tarnish the name of President Rodrigo Duterte who had always been identified as Quiboloy’s close friend.

US interference

Asked why the United States would do this considering that Duterte was not a candidate in the upcoming polls, he replied that his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, was.

“We all have to be in abject denial to say that the United States has not been interfering with our elections as far as we can remember,” Topacio said.

He cited the book “Portrait of a Cold Warrior,” written by Joseph Smith, a retired Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official, who narrated the cold war operations of the US government. According to Topacio, one chapter titled “We Make Presidents,” showed how the American government, through the CIA, had intervened in elections, particularly in Southeast Asia.

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Michael Jay Green, Quiboloy’s general counsel based in Honolulu, Hawaii, said that “the kingdom would not be tarnished by this piece of paper,” referring to the FBI wanted poster. “With the pastor’s blessings, we will respond to this garbage.”

Green said Quiboloy’s accusers told the grand jury lies which the prosecutor believed and resulted in the filing of cases.

He explained that under American legal procedures, an indictment could be had without the respondent presenting his side.

“We used to say in Hawaii, you can indict a coconut. In the mainland, we say you can indict a ham sandwich. You are not there to oppose what the people are saying,” he said.

Green identified Shishir Bhandari, a Nepalese who once served as manager of Apollo Air, the kingdom’s aircraft fleet, as the one behind the cases against Quiboloy.

Topacio claimed it was easy to get an indictment in the United States especially with the help of “polluted sources.” He said the cases against Quiboloy were filed by former KOJC members who had absconded with funds or violated several rules. Upon finding out they were under investigation, they fled abroad and were now doing everything they could to destroy Quiboloy and KOJC.

Topacio’s advice to media

Topacio cautioned the media to be prudent and avoid becoming “complicit [in this] obviously orchestrated effort to destroy Pastor Quiboloy and indirectly, the present administration for political effect.”

Quiboloy, according to the FBI wanted poster, was facing arrest on charges 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 and bulk cash smuggling.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said they would study the legal basis for asking the court to issue either a hold departure order (HDO) or precautionary hold departure order (PHDO) on Quiboloy, or make him the subject of an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO).

An HDO and PHDO issued by a court to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) prevent individuals facing a criminal case or suspected of a crime from leaving the country. An ILBO, which is issued by the BI, alerts its personnel to immediately report to the Department of Justice (DOJ) any attempt by a person under investigation to leave the country.

“We’ll study the legal basis for such an action in the absence of any official request or communication from the US side,” Guevarra said.

At the House of Representatives, an opposition lawmaker urged the DOJ to issue an HDO against Quiboloy, who had appointed himself as the anointed son of God, in the absence of an extradition request from the US government.

Big challenge

“We again ask the DOJ to do whatever is necessary to facilitate the attainment of justice to all the victims of Pastor Quiboloy—even if those measures would run counter to Duterte’s wishes,” Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said in a statement.

She advised Quiboloy to stop “playing the victim” and just surrender to authorities.

“It is a big challenge for the Duterte regime and even for the Bongbong-Sara tandem to not protect Quiboloy, especially since he is endorsing the tandem of the administration,” the lawmaker said. Quiboloy earlier expressed support for Sara Duterte and former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who were running for vice president and president, respectively.

Brosas also criticized Quiboloy for calling himself the “modern Joseph.”

“Joseph was oppressed even though he had no sins. Pastor Quiboloy caused harm, abuse, is a wanted sex trafficker and is involved in many land-grabbing cases in Mindanao. There is a big difference,” she said.

“For someone who is accused of molesting minors and trafficking victims to the US, Quiboloy must really be thick-faced to liken himself to biblical figures. He should just surrender,” she added.

In a press conference on Sunday, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who is running for vice president, said the country’s legal processes must be observed on the possible extradition of Quiboloy.

“We have legal processes. The extradition is there. So we should respect our legal processes,” he said.

—WITH REPORTS FROM NESTOR CORRALES AND DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN 

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TAGS: Apollo Quiboloy, FBI Most Wanted list, Ferdinand Topacio, Rodrigo Duterte, sex trafficking in US
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