By Beting Laygo Dolor, Contributing Editor
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, a close personal friend and spiritual adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte, is facing charges of rape and human trafficking.
A former worker at Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KJC) filed rape, qualified trafficking in persons, and child abuse raps against the leader of the church, charges which were denied by his lawyer Israelito Torreon.
The alleged rape victim was identified as Blenda Sanchez Portugal, now in her early 20s.
In her testimony, Portugal said she and her sister were forced by their father to join the KJC when she was only 12 years old. This was back in 2009.
She and her sister became formal members of the organization sometime between 2010 and 2011.
The alleged rape occurred when the victim was only 17.
The Quiboloy camp said they would file counter-charges against Portugal.
Portugal said in her affidavit that she had been subjected to “sexual and forced labor” by Quiboloy.
Portugal said she and her sister were told by KJC members led by one Ingrid Canada to follow everything told them to do because he was the “Almighty Father.”
Aside from Quiboloy and Canada, church members Jackielyn Roy, Cresente Canada, Pauline Canada, and Sylvia Cemanes were ordered by Davao City prosecutor Sharuddin Roberto Sencio Jr. to reply to the allegations within 10 days of their filing.
Lawyer Torreon said the charges against the church members were baseless, adding that Portugal left the KJC after she was subjected to disciplinary measures for violating church rules.
Torreon said the lawsuit was “part of a grand conspiracy to pin down the church leader.
We will show you that this is not true,” he said.
Last week, Malacañang said it would keep its hands off the accusations against the leader, who claims more than six million members in his church.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the case was “a private matter involving the pastor. We will not intrude into that domain.”
Panelo added: The rule of law in this country always prevails regardless of who is involved.”
This is not the first time that Quiboloy has been accused of wrongdoing.
In 2018, Quiboloy was accused of running a “child sex ring.”
Also, a similar case to Portugal was filed in Honolulu against Quiboloy by a woman who claimed she was assaulted by the religious leader five years ago.
The alleged victim, Kristina Angeles, was also accused of assaulting a teenaged member of the KJC, a charge that she said was in retaliation for her fleeing the church after she agreed to act as witness in a dollar smuggling case filed by US federal authorities against the church.
Previously, a private jet owned by Quiboloy was prevented from leaving Hawaii after it was found to contain unlicensed firearms, as well as an unusually large sum of money.
Church manager Felina Salinas remains detained in the US after she admitted ownership of the stash of dollars found in the jet.
Quiboloy gained notoriety when he claimed to own the universe and had the power to start and stop earthquakes and other natural phenomena.
He claimed that he stopped the earthquakes that struck Mindanao recently but did nothing to prevent the latest typhoon from inflicting damage in southern Philippines.He said he did nothing because “people got angry” with him when he stopped the earthquakes.
After Duterte was elected president, he had a falling out with Quiboloy, who had sought to have some of his followers appointed to the President’s Cabinet.
More recently, the two leaders patched up their differences.
Along with businessman Dennis Uy, Quiboloy provided much of the funds used by Duterte during his presidential campaign.