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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Quiboloy: Slay try, $2m bounty on me

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KOJC boss admits he’s in hiding; FBI denies reward money, US sees him ‘facing justice’

Apollo Quiboloy, the beleaguered leader of religious group Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) and founder of the television network SMNI, said he is currently in hiding because of an alleged assassination plot against him.

Quiboloy, in a 36-minute voice clip on YouTube, also claimed there was a $2 million (P111 million) bounty on his head.

The pastor, however, did not address the subpoenas issued by the Senate and House of Representatives to compel him to attend separate congressional hearings over alleged sexual abuses and exploitative acts committed by KOJC members.

“I have been given to foreigners. If this is true, own up to it. If I’m wrong, correct me. My life is now in danger,” Quiboloy said.

The US government, through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, issued a warrant for Quiboloy’s arrest in 2022 on charges related to labor trafficking, sex trafficking, fraudulent visa acquisition, and bulk cash smuggling.

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The FBI, in a message to GMA News, denied it raised a $2 million bounty for the arrest of Quiboloy and his two associates–Teresita Dandan and Helen Panilag–who are currently wanted in the US over various cases.

“There is an active arrest warrant for Mr. Quiboloy but I’m unaware of a reward offer,” FBI Public Affairs Specialist Laura Eimiller Eimiller said.

The United States Embassy in the Philippines, however, expressed confidence that Quiboloy will “face justice for his heinous crimes.”

“For more than a decade, Apollo Quiboloy engaged in serious human rights abuses, including a pattern of systemic and pervasive rape of girls as young as 11 years old, and is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted List,” US embassy spokesman Kanishka Gangopadhyay said.

“We are confident that Quiboloy will face justice for his heinous crimes. Questions about legal proceedings should be directed to the US Department of Justice,” he added.

The Los Angeles court has rescheduled hearings for the cases of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, sex trafficking of children, conspiracy, and bulk cash smuggling against Quiboloy and his associates. The proceedings are supposed to begin on March 19, 2024.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who heads the committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality that is hearing complaints of sexual assault and labor violations former KOJC members against Quiboloy, said he should not play the victim card.

“His constitutional rights remain intact to the effect that he is being investigated by a senate committee, to the effect that he was issued a warrant, he was issued a subpoena. So, he has all the freedom to make a decision,” the senator said.

“But, of course, there is an obligation as a citizen who has serious accusations against him. As to the bounty on his head, like I said, he should not play the victim,” she added.

The House committee on legislative franchises also summoned the televangelist to get his position on the issues leveled against SMNI.

“We encourage Pastor Quiboloy to address his legal challenges through the proper legal channels and respect the legal processes in place,” Speaker Martin Romualdez said in a statement.

“While I understand the gravity of the accusations he faces on the international stage, specifically from the FBI, it is important to clarify that the Philippine government and its officials, including myself and President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., operate within the bounds of our constitution and laws. We are committed to upholding the rule of law and ensuring the safety and security of all individuals, without exception.”

“The claims of connivance with foreign entities for illicit activities are unfounded and divert attention from the serious legal matters at hand. Our focus remains on serving the Filipino people and fostering relationships that benefit our nation, devoid of any engagement in criminal activities,” Romualdez added.

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