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Quiboloy warrant

Who is Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the so-called ‘Appointed Son of God?’

by Gaby Agbulos AND Joanna Deala

PASTOR Apollo Quiboloy is hogging the headlines again—this time, after a Senate committee ordered his arrest for his repeated absence from hearings.

This is in connection to the investigation into the alleged incidents of large-scale human trafficking, rape, sexual abuse and child abuse within his religious group, Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC).

It was the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality—chaired by Senator Risa Hontiveros—which has been investigating these reports of abuses and which has requested for Quiboloy’s arrest.

For a long time now, Quiboloy’s name has been a rather hot topic; some know of his alleged crimes, and others simply know his name and little else. 

If one were to check his history, however, one would be hardly shocked at the accusations being thrown against him. What else do we know about Quiboloy, aside from him being the founder of KOJC? And how did he get into the situation he is in?

Appointed Son of God

If you were to look up Quiboloy, one of the first things you would find is a biography of him on his website. This discusses his birth and early life. Here, it’s written that when his mother gave birth to him, his mother saw God sitting on a cloud. 

At that moment, she was allegedly told by God, “That is my son.” 

Quiboloy also asserted that several strange events happened when he was a boy. 

At 14, he says that he had his first vision: a dream wherein he saw a bright star fall from Heaven and, as it reached the ground, he saw an image of God in the sky. Shortly after, the world burnt up into flames, descending into madness. 

He would continue to have these visions even as he headed to Bible College. He graduated from there in 1972 and became a preacher. 

In 1974, he became a preacher and leader of the United Pentecostal Church of the Philippines but was kicked out from the organization in 1979 due to preaching many unorthodox doctrines as well as insulting the pastors within the organization. 

He would then decide to create his own denomination–the KOJC–with 15 people following behind him.

Throughout many times in his life, Quiboloy would start to speak as if he were being commanded by God Himself. He has even labeled himself as the “Appointed Son of God,” as well as the “Owner of the Universe.” 

His credibility in labeling himself as such is up for debate.

Quiboloy had been embroiled in many controversies in the past, and the allegations we’re hearing now are just the tip of the iceberg.

Flashback to 2005, Quiboloy was sued by a mother for allegedly brainwashing her teen daughter and other underage devotees of the KOJC, according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer

The report said that Erlinda Rillon, a mother from Baguio City, complained before the city council about the alleged detention of her 19-year-old daughter by Mindanao-based church leaders. But her daughter issued an affidavit and appeared on a cable television station owned by Quiboloy to announce that it was her intention to join the latter’s church in Mindanao.

Datu Dominador Diarog killing

Three years later, the New People’s Army (NPA) accused Quiboloy of being the mastermind behind the murder of tribal chieftain, Datu Dominador Diarog.

According to a GMA News report, Diarog was killed by unidentified men in bonnets in April 2008, while his wife and two of their daughters were wounded in the incident.

The widow believed that Quiboloy had something to do with her husband’s murder, citing that the former had been after their two-hectare land as the church leader planned to expand his property in Barangay Tamayong in Davao City. She added that she and her 10 children received threats from unidentified men who she claimed worked for Quiboloy, which forced them to live in a makeshift dingy within a banana plantation.

But Quiboloy said that such accusations were “totally false and baseless, if not ridiculous.” Former President and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte also defended his political ally.

Land-grabbing controversy

In 2014, the church leader was involved in another controversy concerning land and several indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

In an interview with INQUIRER.net, a resident of Sitio Diolo, said that 40 armed men went to their village to allegedly tell them to leave the land as it was already sold to Quiboloy. 

But Quiboloy’s sect members countered this statement and told the outlet that the former Lumad residents of Sitio Diolo, composed of 20 households, had turned over their rights to the Jesus Christ Workers and Members Cooperative in exchange for cash or goods.

Human trafficking, cash smuggling allegations

Fast forward to 2018, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was reportedly investigating Quiboloy’s church for alleged human trafficking in Hawaii.

In February of the year, Hawaii News Now reported that the FBI was probing a certain Felina Salas, who was reportedly the KOJC’s business manager, for alleged trafficking. The report said she was one of those aboard Quiboloy’s plane where Customs and Border Enforcement agents discovered $350,000 in cash and parts of military-style rifles.

This led to the temporary detention of Quiboloy and the arrest of Salinas after she claimed that the cash was hers. She was also accused of bulk cash smuggling.

The media outlet also reported in March 2018 that Salinas was previously arrested in 2015 for “allegedly beating a fellow church member, who claimed she was forced to raise money.” 

Salinas’ camp, however, argued that such allegations had no merit.

Quiboloy’s camp, through lawyer Israelito Torreon, told Inquirer that the reports about FBI’s investigation into KOJC came as a surprise and shock for them, stressing that they weren’t told that the religious group was being investigated by the FBI for human trafficking. Torreon also clarified that the KOJC “is not a human trafficking organization.” 

Rape, child abuse complaints

A former KOJC member previously filed criminal complaints against Quiboloy and five other church members for rape, child abuse, and human trafficking. 

The complainant alleged a series of abuses, including a rape that happened in 2014 when she was only 17 years old. But the cases were dismissed in 2020 by the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office due to “insufficiency of evidence and lack of probable cause.” 

On March 6, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that qualified human trafficking and child abuse cases would be filed against Quiboloy. This, after it granted a petition for review, overturning the resolution of the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office that dismissed the complaints of the former KOJC member, who also alleged emotional and physical mistreatment and forced labor without compensation under the guise of religious service at the church.

The DOJ also directed Davao City prosecutors to file appropriate charges against Quiboloy and the five other individuals.

The televangelist had refuted the rape allegations against him and said that he was being accused because he rejected women whom he claimed were fighting over him.

Akala nila sa akin, single ako, kaya pinag-aagawan ako. Pagkatapos na ako ay maghi-hindi, mapapahiya, ibabaliktad nila sa akin,” he said.

FBI’s ‘most wanted

In 2022, the FBI included Quiboloy in its list of “Most Wanted.” It published separate posters of Quiboloy and two other church members Teresita Tolibas Dandan and Helen Panilag on its website.

The FBI said that Quiboloy was “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.”

“Members who proved successful at soliciting for the church allegedly were forced to enter into sham marriages or obtain fraudulent student visas to continue soliciting in the United States year-round,” it added.

It was also stated in the FBI’s website that females were allegedly 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.’”

A federal warrant was issued for Quiboloy’s arrest in November 2021. He was indicted by a grand jury in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Santa Ana, California for “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.”

Quiboloy’s camp denied the charges and described it as “another vicious attempt to bring down” their leader.

“Once again, another vicious attempt to bring down Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy and some of the Kingdom leaders has been organized just recently in the United States, but The KJC, The Name Above Every Name and all its followers remain steadfast and committed to faithfully respond to its mission, its ministry and its divine calling despite all the detraction efforts made against them,” the KOJC’s legal counsel said in a statement.

They added that they were “confident and ready” to face the allegations thrown at Quiboloy and other church officials.

Held in contempt

Earlier this week, Hontiveros sought the arrest of Quiboloy for his continued refusal to attend the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality’s investigation into the alleged human trafficking and sexual abuses involving him and his religious group, despite being issued a subpoena.

“Pursuant to Section 18 of the Rules of the Senate, as chair of the committee, with the concurrence of one member here with me, I cite in contempt Apollo Carreon Quiboloy for his refusal to be sworn or to testify before this investigation,” the lawmaker said.

She added, “This committee requests the Senate President to order his arrest so that he may be brought to testify.”

Before this, Hontiveros mentioned a letter sent by Quiboloy’s lawyer Melanio Balayan to her and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, invoking the televangelist’s constitutional rights against self-incrimination and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by the courts.

But Hontiveros countered this and explained that the Senate would lose its power to launch investigations if it would excuse witnesses who claim that appearing before a committee would violate their constitutional rights against self-incrimination and to be presumed innocent.

Hindi po uubra ang ganitong mga excuse,” the senator firmly said.

Hontiveros previously warned the latter of being cited in contempt if he failed to show up at the committee’s March 5 hearing.

However, Senator Robin Padilla objected to her motion to cite Quiboloy in contempt. Hontiveros noted this but mentioned Section 18 of the Rules of Procedures Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation that allows the majority of all committee members to “reverse or modify” the order of contempt within seven days.

Life under threat?

Last month, Quiboloy admitted through a voice clip uploaded on YouTube that he was in hiding and claimed that there were threats to his life.

Sana po press conference ang tatawagin ko ngayon. Pero dahil nanganganib ang buhay ko ay hindi po muna ninyo makikita ang aking pagmumukha, ang akin lang pong boses ang inyong maririnig,” he said.

Mentioning the trumped-up charges filed against him, which are awaiting trial, the controversial televangelist said that he no longer felt at ease and “lost his freedom” because he was being surveilled by the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 

He also believed that President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and First Lady Liza Marcos colluded with the US government to conduct “rendition” on him.

Oxford describes “rendition” as an act in which a suspected person with an outstanding arrest warrant is “forcibly abducted in another state.”

“It’s not only rendition but also elimination. If it is possible, pwede nila akong i-assassinate. Nandoon po sa dalawang ‘yon: kidnapping or assassination,” Quiboloy alleged.

But the chief executive laughed at Quiboloy’s assassination claim and said, “Walang gustong mag-assassinate sa kanya. Bakit siya i-a-assassinate?”

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also said that it has no information about the alleged threat to life of Quiboloy, but if he has “basis” for his claims, it said that it is ready to provide him security upon request.

Marcos, meanwhile, advised the church leader to face ongoing investigations by lawmakers into the alleged abuses being linked to him and to KOJC and tell his side of the story.

What’s next?

Hontiveros said that the Senate panel will invite the Anti-Money Laundering Council and Department of Migrant Workers to the next hearing to “further elucidate” them into Quiboloy’s alleged bulk cash smuggling and fraud.

This, after two new witnesses revealed before the Senate panel the alleged money-making schemes by KOJC members abroad.

One of them was Reynita Fernandez, a household helper in Singapore who said that she was asked to remit money for the ministry, and that they were given “a certain quota.” She said that they were made to believe that “the more tithes you give, the more blessings you will receive.”

Another witness was Dindo Maquiling, former executive director of the Children’s Joy Foundation in Canada, who initially joined the KOJC to help raise funds for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda. However, he insisted that the funds were not used for the needy children.

He said that Quiboloy was “fooling people to collect money for the children when these funds were only used for his jet fuel.”

If these statements of the witnesses are proven true, Hontiveros said that Quiboloy could be considered a “scammer.”

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