NEWSFLASH!!! Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, 2 others placed on FBI’s Most Wanted List, faces arrest, extradition

LOS ANGELES/MANILA — A second presidential adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte is under fire.
After economic adviser Michael Yang, said to be a Chinese national operating businesses out of Davao City was recommended to be deported and charged by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee over his role in the controversial multi-billion-peso (estimated to be P11 billion) medical supplies contracts of the Pharmally Pharmaceuticals, a company with a start-up capital of only P625,000, President Duterte’s spiritual adviser and long-time friend Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, leader of the Davao City-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, was placed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on its most wanted list.

According to the FBI advisory and a poster with Quiboloy’s photo which were posted Friday , February 4, (US time), Quiboloy and two close leaders are 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 in the advisory

“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’.”

“Quiboloy was indicted by a federal 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, and on November 10, 2021, a federal warrant was issued for his arrest,” the FBI advisory added.

The FBI said people with information on Quiboloy could contact its local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

Also on the FBI Wanted List for cases connected to Quiboloy were Teresita Tolibas Dandan and Helen Panilag.

The FBI also stated that “Quiboloy has ties to Calabasas, California, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Kapolei, Hawaii.”

Reacting to FBI’s action, Quiboloy alluded to himself as the “modern Joseph” who has to go through tribulations as his lawyer Ferdinand Topacio questioned the timing of the action.

In November, Quiboloy said that his continued “persecution” would lead to diseases “worse than Omicron.”

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Department of Justice assured it will handle according to law the extradition of Pastor Quiboloy, if requested by the United States, despite his close ties with President Duterte.

At press time, the local Department of Justice (DOJ) said it  has yet to receive an extradition request from the United States.

Chief state counsel George Ortha II vowed that the agency will properly handle the US request.  “If we receive the request, we will do our job within the bounds of the law and processes in our department, regardless of the personality involved,” he said in an interview.

Ortha, in an ABS-CBN report, said it is also possible for the US to ask for a provisional arrest of Quiboloy ahead of an extradition request.

“Hindi na dadaan ‘yan sa formal processes. Puwede na ideretso ‘yon ng US DOJ [sa Philippine DOJ],” he said.

But the US needs to submit its extradition request within 60 days following the provisional arrest, Ortha said.

In a statement, Laura Eimiller, spokesperson of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, refused to comment whether the agency has initiated extradition proceedings.

“We cannot comment on extradition proceedings, including whether they have been initiated. There are outstanding arrest warrants for the fugitives and our investigation is continuing,” she said.

In 2018, Quiboloy, was detained at Honolulu airport for a day after US federal agents found $350,000 (P18 million) and gun parts from the private plane that he was on.

The undeclared cash was found by US Customs and Immigration enforcement agents upon inspection folded and stuffed inside socks in a suitcase, according to Hawaii News Now on its website.

The private plane, a Cessna Citation Sovereign purportedly owned by Quiboloy’s group and is worth at least $15 million, was not allowed to leave the Honolulu International Airport as the US federal government initiated its seizure for the violations.

After almost a day being held at the airport, Quiboloy was allowed to leave after a Filipino American supporter, Felina Salinas, who was on board the plane with four others, owned the money and was charged with cash smuggling. Under US laws, only $10,000 is allowed by an individual to bring in or out of the US terrority and anything above it must be declared before the US Customs authorities.

Quiboloy took a plane to the Los Angeles International Airport where he immediately took a commercial flight back to Manila.

Only last November, the United States Department of Justice indicted Pastor Quiboloy and eight others for allegedly coercing girls and young women to have sex with the pastor under threat of “eternal damnation,” among others.

A  74-page indictment released by the US Department of Justice office in Sta. Ana, California on November 18 expanded earlier indictment and charged Quiboloy, 71, and two other top officials of Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) – Teresita Dandan and Felina Salinas – with participating in a criminal conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, marriage and visa fraud and other federal law violations.

According to the US DOJ, three of the five female victims were minors when the alleged sex trafficking began.

Three of the new defendants were arrested on November 18 by federal authorities and are expected to make their initial appearance at the US District Court in Los Angeles and Honolulu.

The US DOJ said every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Following the indictment, US authorities readied measures seeking to confiscate the US assets of Quiboloy which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said were “ill gotten,” according to FBI spokesperson for Los Angeles Laura Eimiller.

“We seek to recover typically all ill-gotten gains from the crimes committed,” FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller added.

At the same time, US  authorities said Quiboloy could be extradited to California to personally face the charges against him and seven of his followers.

Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel H. Ahn, Jake D. Nare and Benjamin D. Lichtman of the Santa Ana Branch Office, along with Special Assistant United States Attorney Angela C. Makabali of the General Crimes Section, are prosecuting the case. Assistant United States Attorney Katharine Schonbachler of the Asset Forfeiture Section is also working on the case.
In Davao City, the camp of Pastor Quiboloy said in a statement that their leader and the entire Kingdom nation would not be brought down over a malicious issue on sex trafficking.

“The people who accused him today in California, are the same dissidents who miserably failed in their attempt to bring Pastor Quiboloy into the case in Hawaii. Our heart goes to Pastor Quiboloy and to all the Kingdom leaders who were maliciously accused in this present controversy,” the statement said.

“Despite the charges pressed against the church leader, his legal counsel said the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, and all its followers remain steadfast and committed to faithfully responding to its mission, its ministry, and its divine calling despite all the detraction efforts made against them,” it added.

“We are confident and ready to face whatever is hurled against Pastor Quiboloy and the Kingdom leaders. We trust the process of justice and we certainly expect the truth to prevail, and the Kingdom ministry will continue to prosper,” the statement said.

The Philippine Department of Justice said it would cooperate with US authorities in case they seek to extradite Quiboloy even as the Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles, lawyer Edgar Badajos, assured they will assist Quiboloy as well as the Filipino victims as mandated by law.

ConGen Badajos said his office will continue to monitor the case, adding they are prepared to assist Filipino citizens involved in the case, whether alleged victims or accused.

“As to the members, we wish that things will turn out fine for everybody but most importantly for the alleged victims, that they be given justice in the laws of the United States,” Badajos said in an ABS-CBN report. 

“It is our responsibility to provide assistance to any of the accused and the victims who are still Filipinos to extend the necessary and appropriate consular assistance and none of them have contacts us yet but we are ready to extend assistance as appropriate. Philippine nationals,” he said.

Properties of Quiboloy and the KOJC which could be subject to forfeiture include a Cessna Citation Sovereign, a private aircraft with a current market value of $18 million, a Bell 429 helicopter, several luxury cars and real estate holdings, such as a million-dollar mansion which Quiboloy allegedly owns in Calabasas, California.

Quiboloy’s Cessna plane was seized by federal authorities in Hawaii in February 2018 after gun parts and $350,000 were found folded and stuffe in socks in a suitcase inside the plane which was about to fly Quiboloy to Manila but was returned to him afterward after his Waipahu church administrator, Felina Salinas, owned the money which was to be smuggled out of US. Quiboloy was briefly detained in Hawaii due to the incident and he had to fly back to Manila via Los Angeles via commercial plane.

In a statement, the US DOJ in Sta. Ana, California, identified the defendants charged in the expanded indictment. They  are:

         1. Quiboloy, believed to be 71, whose primary residence is a KOJC compound in Davao City, Philippines, but who also maintained large residences in Calabasas, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Kapolei, Hawaii;

         2. Teresita Tolibas Dandan, also known as “Tessie” and “Sis Ting,” 59, of Davao City, the “international administrator” who was one of the top overseers of KOJC and CJF operations in the United States;

         3. Helen Panilag, 56, of Davao City, the one-time top KOJC administrator in the U.S., who oversaw the collection of financial data from KOJC operations around the globe;

         4. Felina Salinas, also known as “Sis Eng Eng,” 50, of Kapolei, Hawaii, who allegedly was responsible for collecting and securing passports and other documents from KOJC workers in Hawaii, as well as directing funds solicited to church members to church officials in the Philippines (arrested on November 18);

         5. Guia Cabactulan, 61, the lead KOJC administrator in the United States who operated the KOJC compound in Van Nuys (charged in original indictment);

         6. Marissa Duenas, 43, a Van Nuys-based administrator who handled fraudulent immigration documents for workers (charged in original indictment);

        7. Amanda Estopare, 50, another Van Nuys-based administrator who was in charge of tracking and reporting the money raised in the U.S. to KOJC officials in the Philippines (charged in original indictment);

      8. Bettina Padilla Roces, also known as “Kuki,” 48, a fourth administrator who allegedly handled financial matters (arrested today in Reseda); and

   9. Maria De Leon, 72, a resident of the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, the owner of Liberty Legal Document Services, who allegedly processed fraudulent marriages and immigration-related documents for KOJC workers (arrested today at her residence).

       In its statement, the US DOJ stated: “ The indictment alleges the sex trafficking scheme started no later than 2002 and continued to at least 2018, during which time Quiboloy and his top administrators caused the victims to engage in commercial sex acts by ordering female victims, including the minor victims, to have sex with defendant Quiboloy on a schedule determined by the church leader and others, including Dandan. The victims who were obedient were rewarded with “good food, luxurious hotel rooms, trips to tourist spots, and yearly cash payments that were based on performance” – which were paid for with money solicited by KOJC workers in the United States, according to the indictment.

“ As part of the alleged scheme, the three defendants told female victims who expressed hesitation at night duty “that they had the devil in them and risked eternal damnation.” Furthermore, Quiboloy would threaten and physically abuse victims who attempted to leave KOJC or were not available to perform night duty, according to the indictment, which also alleges Quiboloy would physically abuse victims for communicating with other men or engaging in other behavior that upset him because he considered such conduct adultery and a sin.”

  Victims who managed to escape KOJC suffered retaliation in the form of threats, harassment and allegations of criminal misconduct, according to the indictment. “Defendant Quiboloy would give sermons, broadcasted to KOJC members around the world, in which he would allege that victims who escaped had engaged in criminal conduct and sexually promiscuous activity, and therefore faced eternal damnation, in order to discourage other victims from leaving, retaliate against and discredit the victims, and conceal the sexual activity between defendant Quiboloy and the victims,” the indictment states,” the DOJ stated.

   Salinas has been detained and is now among the nine indictees with Quiboloy. She was released on $25,000 bail over the Hawaii case.

 Quiboloy was finally charged in the case for “knowingly concealing more than $10,000 in currency” in transit to another country outside the United States, a violation under federal law.

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles said the new indictment expanded on allegations made last year against three KOJC administrators based in the city. It charges Quiboloy and eight others with participating in a scheme in which church members were brought to the United States using fraudulently obtained visas and forced to solicit donations to a bogus children’s charity.

Prosecutors said the donations were used to pay for “lavish lifestyles” of the church leaders.

The latest indictment added Quiboloy and five other new defendants to an existing indictment filed in 2020. Prosecutors said US authorities arrested three of the new defendants last week but three others, including Quiboloy, were believed to be in the Philippines.

The indictment alleges that Quiboloy and two 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.”

Other properties that could be seized include houses in Las Vegas, Nevada and in Kapolei, Hawaii, as well as the main headquarters of KOJC in the United States with address at 14400 block of Vanowen Street, Van Nuys, California.

Aside from Quiboloy’s indictment in the US, a complaint was also filed against Quiboloy last year before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office for alleged rape, child abuse, ill-treatment under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), trafficking in persons through forced labor, and trafficking in persons through sexual abuse but the prosecutor’s office dismissed the charges, although the complaint has been appealed before the DOJ’s Office of the Secretary.

Meanwhile,  President Duterte “will execute the laws accordingly” amid the issues hounding Quiboloy, his spiritual adviser, according to Malacañang in November.

Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles made this assurance after being asked if Duterte would continue supporting Quiboloy amid sex trafficking charges hurled against the KOJC leader.

Nograles was also asked whether Duterte would allow Quiboloy’s extradition to the United States (US) if requested.

“As a lawyer and as a former prosecutor, and the chief executive of the country, he will execute the laws accordingly,” Nograles said in a Palace press briefing.

Nograles earlier said it is up to Duterte if he will keep Quiboloy as his spiritual adviser.

“Again, we’ll wait for the President’s statement regarding that kasi bago pa lang itong development na ito (because this is just a new development). Hayaan na lang po natin na magsalita si Pangulo tungkol po diyan (Let the President make a statement on that issue),” he said in a briefing on Nov. 19.

At the same time, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Quiboloy would not be accorded any special treatment.

“The DOJ, through the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking), will perform its mandate under the law, regardless of the persons involved,” Guevarra said.

Investigation into KOJC continues and is led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the US Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and other US agencies. (Alfred Gabot/Claire Morales True/Jeanne Michael Penaranda)