By Benjamin Pulta

Apollo Quiboloy (Photo courtesy of Quiboloy FB page)

MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday called on Apollo Quiboloy to honor his earlier promises and face the child abuse charges against him before a Davao court “unconditionally,” even as future arrest warrants are awaiting the embattled televangelist for separate charges of trafficking before a Pasig City court.

In a statement, DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla noted that Quiboloy has repeatedly stated that charges should be filed in court, however, refuses to subject himself to the court’s jurisdiction.

“Argue your charges before the court where you remain the accused. Tell the naked truth, that way you can redeem yourself,” Remulla said, as he assured of Quiboloy’s safety

“No one is above the law, even if one occupies an important position in his religious organization. Quiboloy cannot impose any conditions. He must surrender not according to his terms but according to the terms of the law. The law applies to all, without exception.”

In an audio statement released over the weekend, Quiboloy demanded a written guarantee from the government that the United States (US) would not interfere in his cases.

He was indicted in the US for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; sex trafficking of children; and bulk cash smuggling. A federal warrant was issued for his arrest on Nov. 10, 2021.

Meanwhile, the DOJ said it sees no legal impediment to the arrest of Quiboloy for violation of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7610 or the “Anti-Child Abuse Law” after the Davao Regional Trial Court (RTC) issued a warrant of arrest against him last April 3 for sexual abuse of minors and maltreatment.

It also noted that the charges against the Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder are “never a weak one, and there is direct evidence to prove all the elements of the offenses charged.”

“The charges against Quiboloy are not simple. They involve serious and morally abhorrent offenses such as sexual assault of a minor and human trafficking,” Remulla pointed out.

Meantime, DOJ is waiting for the issuance by the Pasig Regional Trial Court of another warrant of arrest against Quiboloy for qualified trafficking, according to Justice Undersecretary Margarita Gutierrez.

“We will update the public at a later time on the legal process it is currently undertaking so as to prevent any premature release of any sensitive information relevant to the ongoing case,” Gutierrez said.

No trace yet

Meanwhile, law enforcers have yet to find the embattled televangelist in any of his properties in Davao City.

In a press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City Monday, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said they have already extended manhunt operations against Quiboloy outside the city.

“We want to assure Pastor Quiboloy at lahat ng kanyang mga supporters at kanyang mga abogado na patuloy natin kinakausap na poproteksyunan natin si (and all his supporters and lawyers to whom we are talking to that we would protect) Pastor Quiboloy should he decide to surrender and submit himself to the jurisdiction of the court,” she told reporters.

Fajardo also denied Quiboloy’s allegation that the Philippine and US government are conniving with each other against him.

She, meanwhile, said the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office is looking into the possibility of cancelling Quiboloy’s license to own and possess firearms.

Currently, Quiboloy has 19 registered firearms.

However, Fajardo said Quiboloy cannot be considered yet as “armed and dangerous.”

“For now, hindi pa because wala naman indication before na naging marahas si (not yet because there is no indication of violence seen in) Pastor Quiboloy at wala naman tayo na-monitor so far na siya ay nagme-maintain ng mga (and we have not monitored so far that he is maintaining a) PAG (private armed group) or private army but nonetheless kapag tayo ay nagsasagawa ng (when we conduct) police operations, these things are also being considered,” she added. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)