Early this month, the United States Embassy insisted that the “Most Wanted” poster of Kingdom of Christ founder Apollo Quiboloy was not released for political reasons. This is despite many rumblings that it was issued given the upcoming elections in 2022.
“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,” they said in a statement. “It is unrelated to the Philippines’ ongoing presidential election campaign.”
Aside from self-appointed “Son of God” Quiboloy, the FBI also released “most wanted” posters for Kingdom of Jesus Christ members Teresita Tolibas Dandan and Helen Panilag.
Michael Green, Quiboloy’s lawyer in the United States, has said the accuesers were lying. In the Philippines, Quiboloy’s camp through Ferdie Topacio insisted the allegations were “politically motivated.”
According to the FBI, 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.”
“Members who proved successful at soliciting for the church allegedly were forced to enter into sham marriages or obtain fraudulent student visas,” they added, “to continue soliciting in the United States year-round.”
They went on to say that “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’.”
He was indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Santa Ana. This was for the following crimes: Bulk cash smuggling, Conspiracy, Conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion and sex trafficking of children, Sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.
…trial set in US in 2023
The criminal trial of religious cult leader Apollo Quiboloy and several of his associates is scheduled to proceed early next year, according to numerous published news reports.
The trial for the accused individuals is set in March 2023, Thom Mrozek, director of media relations of the US Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California (Los Angeles) was quoted recently as saying.
Mrozek identified the defendants who will stand trial next year as Felina Santos, Marissa Duenas, Amanda Estopare, Guia Cabactulan and Bettina Padilla Roces as they were arrested in 2021 in the US and have been released on bail.
Mrozek said Quiboloy and two confederates identified as Teresita Tolibas Dandan and Helen Panilag are considered fugitives, prompting the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to include them in the Most Wanted list.
They were indicted by a federal grand jury in California for fraud and coercion; sex trafficking of children; conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force; marriage fraud; fraud and misuse of visas; bulk cash smuggling; promotional money laundering; concealment of money laundering; and international promotional money laundering.
If convicted, they face serious jail terms that could keep them behind bars for decades.
A US Justice Department official said the evidence against Quiboloy et al. was sufficient for federal prosecutors to seek their indictment last year, according to published reports. For now, there was no word whether extradition proceedings against Quiboloy, Dandan and Panilag have been filed by the US prosecutors so they could face their accusers in court.
Photo: Yahoo News