“Son of God,” 2 others charged with sex trafficking in US

Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy. File photo by MANMAN DEJETO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 November) – The US Department of Justice announced the filing of sex-trafficking charges against international evangelist Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy and two other church administrators for allegedly coercing girls, aged 12 to 25, to perform a “night duty” or “sex” under threat of physical and verbal abuse and eternal damnation.

Quiboloy, self-anointed “Son of God” and founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC), is a friend and spiritual adviser of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

In a press release posted on US DOJ’s website on November 18, the superseding indictment issued by the Federal Grand Jury charged Quiboloy, KOJC “internal administrator Teresita Tolibas Dandan, and Felina Salinas “with participating in a conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, as well as the sex trafficking of children.”

The maximum penalty for sex trafficking conspiracy in the US is life sentence in a federal prison.

The superseding indictment, which expanded the scope of the indictment issued last year, also detailed “KOJC’s nationwide soliciting operations, which allegedly gave rise to additional criminal conduct, including forced labor, labor trafficking, document servitude, marriage fraud and money laundering.”

It alleged that five female victims, three of whom are minors, were recruited to work as “personal assistants” called “pastorals,” and tasked to prepare Quiboloy’s meals, clean residences, give him massages, and perform “night duty,” or what the pastorals referred to as “sex.”

The charge also states that the church leader and other KOJC administrators “coerced pastorals into performing night duty” under the “threat of physical and verbal abuse and eternal damnation by defendant Quiboloy and other KOJC administrators.”

The victims were allegedly told that performing “night duty” was “God’s will and a privilege, as well as a necessary demonstration of the pastoral commitment to give her body” to Quiboloy, the indictment said.

The indictment alleged that 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.”

It said the female victims were subjected to physical abuse if they resisted to perform a “night duty,” attempted to leave KOJC, or communicated with other men which was considered “adultery and sin.”

Obedient victims were allegedly rewarded with “good food, luxurious hotel rooms, trips to tourist spots, and yearly cash payments that were based on performance,” according to the indictment. Payments allegedly came from money solicited by church workers.

Church members were brought from the Philippines to the US where they solicited donations for Glendale-based Children’s Joy Foundation to supposedly support impoverished children but collections were actually used to finance operations of the KOJC and the “lavish lifestyle of KOJC leaders, including Quiboloy, according to the indictment.

President Rodrigo Duterte, accompanied by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, visits Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy Tuesday evening (17 August 2021). Photo from Sen. Go’s Facebook page

In a statement posted on “Mags Maglana sa Kongreso” on Facebook, development worker Mags Maglana, who is a candidate for Davao City’s 1st District representative, called on the the Philippine government to initiate its own investigation to ascertain if laws on human trafficking and violence against women and children had been violated.

She said the legislators may want to inquire on the status of implementation of Republic Act (RA) 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and RA 7877 or Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, among others, to “ensure that these laws are applied regardless of who is involved.”

Maglana added that the Philippines should cooperate in extraditing Quiboloy and ensure that he stand trial before the US court by virtue of the existing extradition treaty that this country entered into with the US.

“The people of Davao will take a strong interest in ensuring that justice is served to the women and minors who were reportedly coerced into having sexual acts with Mr. Quiboloy. We have our own local legislation against human trafficking and sexual harassment and should endeavor to have them consistently applied,” she said.

“There may have been situations in the past when these laws were not brought to bear down on those who use their positions to publicly hurt and shame women by their words and actions. Those times do not invalidate the laws nor the people’s support for them—they just mean we have to continue and do better in holding violators accountable. The sex trafficking indictment against Mr. Quiboloy is our opportunity to do right by our women and girls and uphold rule of law,” she said.

“We have to close ranks behind the women and girls who have been victimized in the Quiboloy case and ensure that they are protected and accorded the necessary support,” she said.

“In particular, this is another chance to stand by and assert the progressive legislation for women and children in Davao City that were championed by civil society advocates and city and barangay leaders,” she added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)