The pending appeal on a rape complaint against Apollo Quiboloy, President Duterte's spiritual adviser, will not stop his possible extradition to the United States on sex trafficking charges, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Sunday.
Guevarra said that although there is an appeal on a criminal complaint against the 71-year-old Quiboloy, this could not be used as a ground to stall his possible extradition to the US, since no charges have been filed against him before a Philippine court.
“The pendency of the appeal before the Office of the Secretary is not an obstacle to extradition because there is no indictment in a Philippine court as yet,” the Justice Secretary said.
“But extradition is not a simple process,” he added.
Guevarra said the Department of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs must first evaluate and determine if the US case is covered by the extradition treaty between the United States and the Philippines.
Guevarra earlier revealed that a complaint of rape, child abuse, ill-treatment under the Revised Penal Code, trafficking in persons through forced labor and trafficking in persons through sexual abuse were filed against Pastor Quiboloy in Davao City last year.
However, these charges were dismissed and a petition for review was filed before the DO last year. There was only one complainant.
Guevarra assured the public that there would be no special treatment given to Quiboloy. The DOJ “would perform its mandate under the law, regardless of the persons involved,” he said.
Aside from the extradition treaty, the Philippines also has an existing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the US that could be used in dealing with criminal matters in their country.
On Nov. 18, the US prosecutors announced that sex trafficking charges were filed against Quiboloy and two other top officials from his Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KJC) for allegedly coercing young girls and women to have sex with him and threatening them with “eternal damnation” if they refused.
Also named as accused were Teresita Tolibas Dandan and Felina Salinas, for reportedly recruiting females aged 12 to 25 to work as personal assistants or “pastorals” for the religious leader. One of their tasks was to allegedly perform “night duty”or to have sex with him.
Of the five female victims, three were reportedly minors during the time that the sex trafficking act was committed.
The KJC legal counsel expressed confidence that they could defend Quiboloy and their KJC leaders. “We trust the process of justice and we certainly expect the truth to prevail, and the Kingdom ministry will continue to prosper.”
Earlier, the DOJ said it would take a second look at the rape case filed against Quiboloy, after his indictment Thursday for sex trafficking charges in the United States.
Meanwhile, the Philippine consulate in Los Angeles said it is hoping for justice for alleged victims in the sex trafficking case involving Quiboloy, as they continue to monitor the indictment by a US federal grand jury.
Consul General Edgar Badajos said they are also prepared to assist Filipino citizens involved in the case, whether alleged victims or accused.
"It is our responsibility to provide assistance to any of the accused and the victims who are still Filipinos to extend the necessary and appropriate consular assistance," he said.
In a 74-page document, federal prosecutors in the US charged Quiboloy for sex trafficking involving victims as young as 12 years old.
The victims, who were church members, were flown to the United States to solicit donations to a non-existent children’s charity, which was allegedly used to fund Quiboloy’s lavish lifestyle.
The indictment also alleged that the victims, called “pastorals,” were required to prepare Quiboy’s meals, clean his homes, give him massages and have sex with him during what was called the “night duty.”
Guevarra said the DOJ has yet to receive any communication from the US regarding Quiboloy’s indictment.
“As of this date, the DOJ has not received any request for extradition from the US DOJ, nor the US State Department through the DFA,” he said.
Several of the defendants and alleged victims are based in Los Angeles. The neighborhood of Van Nuys is home to the church's North American headquarters, which was also raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last year amid immigration fraud charges.