Philippine pastor accused of sexual abuse alleges US, Marcos want him ‘eliminated’

Dennis Jay Santos and Jeoffrey Maitem
Davao/Cotabato, Philippines
Philippine pastor accused of sexual abuse alleges US, Marcos want him ‘eliminated’ Apollo Quiboloy, founder of “the Kingdom of Jesus Christ” church and spiritual adviser of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, speaks during a press conference in Davao City, southern Philippines, May 23, 2016.
[Manman Dejeto/AFP]

Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spiritual adviser, who is wanted in the United States for alleged sex trafficking and fraud, has gone into hiding after accusing Washington of a plot to abduct and "eliminate" him. 

Apollo Quiboloy, a Filipino televangelist preacher and pastor to the ex-leader, alleged in a message to his followers that the American and Philippine governments hatched the plot, and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had him under observation.

“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 36-minute voice recording uploaded on YouTube and Facebook this week. 

Quiboloy is the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, a Philippines-based megachurch with branches in the United States. 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.

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. But the Philippines has yet to extradite him to face the charges in a U.S. court, and it is believed that Quiboloy is at large in the Southeast Asian country.

President Rodrigo Duterte sings to his supporters during a thanksgiving concert held before his six-year term ended, in Quirino Grandstand, Manila, June 26, 2022. [Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]

Quiboloy, who calls himself the “appointed son of God,” alleged in his audio recording that U.S. and Filipino officials, including his Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., wanted him dead.

“They no longer want the extradition treaty. What they want to do, according to the CIA, the FBI, the U.S. Embassy and State Department, with the collusion of the government of Marcos and first lady, and whoever is in the government, is rendition,” he said.

“It’s not only rendition, but also elimination. If it is possible, they can also assassinate me,” he alleged.

He didn’t say where he got this information.

On Thursday, BenarNews contacted the U.S. Embassy in Manila for comment on Quiboloy’s allegations, but the embassy said questions about legal proceedings should be directed to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

However, the U.S. government was “confident Quiboloy will face justice for his heinous crime,” the embassy said in a statement.

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

‘You did not respect me’

Quiboloy had backed Marcos in the 2022 presidential election in which he ran with Duterte’s daughter, Sara, as his vice presidential candidate.

In his recorded remarks this week, the pastor lashed out at Marcos by alleging that despite his support for him in the polls two years ago, the president was colluding with the U.S. government.

“I will not honor you, I will not respect you because you did not honor me, you did not respect me,” Quiboloy said.

“Remove this evil administration,” he exhorted his followers.

Quiboloy’s church, which he founded in 1985, has branches in the U.S. and boasts 6 million followers including 2 million abroad. The televangelist preacher is considered influential in Philippine politics because of the size of his flock. 

Earlier this year, the Philippine Senate filed a resolution that called for an investigation into Quiboloy, whose church is based in Davao City, Duterte’s southern hometown.

Newly elected Vice President Sara Duterte raises the arm of newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during their inauguration ceremony at the National Museum in Manila, June 30, 2022. [Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she had heard “hair-raising allegations” from testimonies to the Senate last month by Quiboloy’s alleged victims.

She said one witness told her that she was only 15 when she was recruited into the church along with her family. This alleged victim and others in the church were made to beg on the streets and were subjected to beatings if they failed to collect enough money. 

Quiboloy was summoned by the Senate on Jan. 23 to testify in response to allegations of sexual abuse, but he didn’t appear.

Quiboloy enjoyed a level of protection from Duterte during the latter’s presidency, from 2016 to 2022. 

When the FBI announced in 2020 that it had begun to investigate Quiboloy, then-President Duterte defended him. And he repeatedly defended Quiboloy against allegations of fraud.

Quiboloy’s fortunes also rose during the Duterte administration, as he enjoyed certain presidential favors, observers have said.

‘A kind of social disruption’

Former Sen. Leila de Lima meanwhile described the Duterte years as “a kind of social disruption” taken to its extreme, which allowed people like Quiboloy to thrive. 

“It was a complete break from the social norms that we got used to and we thought were acceptable to a people so historically destitute in their lives that they were ready to accept everything that was decent in our society in exchange for something that promised changed,” De Lima, a critic of Duterte’s controversial drug war who was put in jail during his administration, said on Thursday. 

The senator spent six years in jail on unfounded charges that she had profited from protecting drug traffickers when she was justice secretary. De Lima was released on bail in November 2023.

In December 2022, the U.S Treasury Department announced sanctions against Quiboloy, accusing him of raping women and children. However, Washington has stopped short of asking Manila to extradite the pastor.

In July 2023, YouTube and Google took out Quiboloy’s media channels maintained by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), a television station that gained prominence during the Duterte administration.

Jojo Riñoza in Manila contributed to this report.


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