Quiboloy church members arrested in southern Philippines

But Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church who is being sought over sex-abuse allegations, was nowhere in sight.
Dennis Jay Santos
2024.04.03
Davao, Philippines
Quiboloy church members arrested in southern Philippines Pastor Apollo Quiboloy (second from right) prays with then-presidential hopeful Rodrigo Duterte (to Quiboloy’s right) at a birthday celebration during a thanksgiving worship service in Lingayen, a town in Pangasinan province, northern Philippines, March 27, 2016.
Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews

Police in the southern Philippines on Wednesday arrested three loyal associates of Apollo Quiboloy, the founder of a megachurch and religious adviser to ex-President Rodrigo Duterte, in connection with a sexual abuse case against the televangelist preacher. 

Police officers went to the compound of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church in Davao City to serve an arrest warrant on Quiboloy, its founder, and were allowed inside, but he was not on the premises, officials said.

The 73-year-old pastor, who is also wanted by federal authorities in the United States over similar allegations, is believed to be at-large in the Philippines. 

“We don’t want trouble in serving this warrant. I appeal to the followers of Quiboloy not to resort to violence and follow the rule of law,” said Brig. Gen. Alden Delvo, the police chief in Davao.

Philippine media reports said that a regional court in Davao had issued a warrant for the pastor’s arrest on Wednesday. That followed the Philippine Senate separately ordering his arrest last month for failing to appear before a committee to respond to allegations that he had sexually abused female members of his congregation.  

Although Quiboloy was nowhere to be seen at the compound, police took three of his associates into custody, Delvo said.

The three, who were identified as Cresente Canada, Paulene Canada, and Sylvia Cemañes, are suspected of allowing abuses to take place at the church, which is headquartered in Davao. In its warrant, the court in Davao had also indicted the three and order their arrests on charges of sexual abuse. 

When the trio of Quiboloy’s associates learned that police were moving in to arrest them, they sent out “surrender feelers,” Delvo said.

“We haven’t spoken to Pastor Quiboloy (personally), but they were polite enough to let us enter the premises of the Kingdom and talk to their administrator and the lawyer also,” Delvo told reporters, adding that the whereabouts of Quiboloy remained unknown. 

“But we are just hoping that in the coming days pastor, Quiboloy along with his lawyers will submit themselves to the authorities, so that he can be processed and post bail,” he said. 

However, he said, the Senate’s arrest order was “a different story.” 

Delvo said Davao police were coordinating with the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms tasked with taking Quiboloy in. The pastor “will be a fugitive” and subject to a manhunt operation if he does not appear.

Delvo said he believed Quiboloy was still inside the country, and specifically in his “safe haven” in the Davao region, the political base of his supporter Duterte, where he enjoys a certain level of protection. 

Quiboloy-FBI.jpeg
[Website of U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation]

Quiboloy, who refers to himself as the “appointed son of God,” had earlier this year accused Duterte’s successor, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., of working with the U.S. in a plot to kidnap and eliminate him.

“I am under surveillance in the Philippines by the CIA and the FBI. In my own country I am hiding because they can pick me up just like that,” Quiboloy said in a voice recording uploaded on YouTube and Facebook in February.

In November 2021, a U.S. grand jury charged him on suspicion of orchestrating a sex-trafficking operation that coerced girls as young as 12 to have sex with him or risk “eternal damnation,” federal prosecutors said.

Quiboloy, U.S. prosecutors had said, allegedly recruited girls and young women, ranging from 12 to 25 years old, to work as personal assistants or “pastorals” at his church. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ has branches in California.

He has denied the allegations.

Under the charges brought against him by U.S. authorities, Quiboloy faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of sex-trafficking, and five to 20 years if convicted of fraud and money laundering. 

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