Lawyers of Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) pastor Apollo Quiboloy (President Duterte’s and daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio’s spiritual adviser) believe Quiboloy was included in the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) “Most Wanted” list to influence the May Philippine election.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, in a press conference, also said some groups could be behind the public persecution of Quiboloy and could be using him to discredit and tarnish the image and credibility of Duterte and some candidates in the upcoming polls.
“According to an FBI post on its website, there was a warrant also issued on that day (November 10). Common sense dictates that if you have a warrant, you immediately put up a wanted poster.
Why wait until now to release the poster when the campaign for the national elections is about to start?” Topacio said.
US lawyer Michael Jay Green said the defense team is “ready, willing and able” to answer the charges and follow the extradition process, should the US government request it.
The campaign period for candidates running for president, vice-president, senator, and for party-list groups kicked off on February 8.
Quiboloy endorsed the candidacies of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Duterte-Carpio for president and vice-president, respectively.
Topacio said he is not fomenting any conspiracy theories but “we all have to be in a state of abject denial to say that the United States has not been interfering with our elections since as far as we can remember.”
He said there have also been accounts throughout the country’s history that the US is averse to what they perceive to be influential local groups such as non-governmental organizations, people’s organizations, or religious groups that “cannot be controlled by the US.”
Asked what the US government would gain from destroying the image of Quiboloy and President Duterte, Topacio said, “Well indirectly, it is undermining the candidacy of Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Indirectly, it may be undermining the candidacy of Bongbong Marcos, or whichever candidate the United States does not want to win in this country.”
Despite Quiboloy’s closeness to the President, Topacio said he will not ask Duterte for help as the Constitution already has “guarantees” that would protect his rights.
He said the President just needs to ensure the country’s laws and that justice is done.
“We are not asking the President for any special favors,” Topacio said.
In November 2021, Quiboloy, along with KOJC members Teresita Tolibas Dandan and Helen Panilag, were indicted in the US for allegedly running a sex-trafficking operation that threatened victims as young as 12 with “eternal damnation” and physical abuse.
The FBI issued wanted posters with the photos of Quiboloy, Dandan and Panilag last February 4.
They are wanted in the US for their 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.”
Green said the former KOJC members who filed cases against Quiboloy have previously allegedly absconded church funds and violated morality and ethics guidelines and fled abroad when investigations against them started.
Green alleged those who filed the cases were “rotten to the core” while Topacio said they were “despicable.”
On calls to issue a hold departure order against Quiboloy, Topacio said only the court that is handling the case can issue a hold departure order.