Controversial church leader Apollo Quiboloy is making headlines for being indicted by a U.S. grand jury for charges of child sex trafficking.
According to a statement by the US Justice Department, "Defendant Quiboloy and other KJC (Kingdom of Jesus Christ) administrators coerced pastorals into performing 'night duty'—that is, sex—with defendant Quiboloy under the threat of physical and verbal abuse and eternal damnation."
The indictment alleges that the scheme ran for at least 16 years until 2018 and targeted females aged 12 to 25 to work as personal assistants, or "pastorals."
In a Nov. 19 statement, KJC’s legal counsel branded the case as “another vicious attempt to bring down” Quiboloy.
“Our heart goes to Pasto Quiboloy and to all the Kingdom leaders who were maliciously accused in this present controversy,” the statement said. “We are confident and ready to face whatever is hurled against Pastor Quiboloy and the Kingdom leaders.”
Quiboloy has long been a public figure before the charges. Here's how the 71-year-old pastor came into the public eye.
He founded the religious group Kingdom of Jesus Christ
Quiboloy established the group Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name in Davao in 1985 shortly after leaving the United Pentecostal Church. He started with 15 members.
On their official website, the church states that they are "not an organization, or a "church:... But it is the Kingdom of the Almighty Father, our Lord Jesus Christ here on earth today."
They have the goal of spreading the message of repentance through Quiboloy, who they believe is the "Appointed Son of God."
Quiboloy serves as the executive pastor of the group that claims to now have over six million followers around the world. He regularly speaks to his members in a daily telecast. His last streamed message was on Nov. 18.
He claims to be the "Appointed Son of God"
Quiboloy has long claimed to be the "Appointed Son of God" brought to Earth.
On the same site, the KOJC says that "Pastor Apollo is not just a church leader or head of just any organization. He is the representative of the Almighty Father here on earth. He is the body in which the Father dwells. He is the Father’s audible voice, His Appointed Son."
They also claim that Quiboloy is the "first of all of God’s fallen creation, the race of Adam, to have rejected, by repentance, by his own free will" as well as the "first man to have received the new spirit of obedience to the Father’s Will."
With the support of his church group, Quiboloy has also made claims that he has control over and can predict natural disasters.
In October of 2019, he said that he ordered a 6.6-magnitude earthquake in Mindanao to stop.
“Pasalamat kayo sa'kin, pasalamat kayo sa‘kin. Kasi kung ‘di ko pina-stop ‘yun, marami kayong magigiba diyan. Mamamatay kayo. Kaya pasalamat kayo ako ang nagpa-stop ng lindol,” he said during his Oct. 30 livestream.
His words have since inspired memes and social media posts about his claims, with national seismologists warning that earthquakes can't be predicted.
“We cannot predict when or where an earthquake or tsunami will happen. What we do is prepare earthquake scenarios of hazards and impacts to be used as a guide for mitigation, preparedness, and response," said PHIVOLCS in a tweet.
We cannot predict when or where an earthquake or tsunami will happen.— PHIVOLCS-DOST (@phivolcs_dost) November 3, 2019
What we do is prepare earthquake scenarios of hazards and impacts to be used as a guide for mitigation, preparedness, and response.#NoToFakeNews #BasahinAtIntindihin pic.twitter.com/BJV1CoOL6I
He is President Duterte's "spiritual advisor" and longtime friend
Quiboloy and President Rodrigo Duterte go way back from the latter's time as Davao City mayor. During Duterte's 2016 presidential campaign run, Quiboloy's church endorsed his candidacy.
The two have seen each other regularly during Duterte's presidential run. Duterte visited Quiboloy in Davao in May of 2021, where the president was quarantined amid the surge of COVID-19 cases.
Duterte has also requested Quiboloy to rescue him from hell if he sells his soul to the devil because of his War on Drugs campaign.
Quibiloy has also drawn the ire of Sen. Manny Pacquiao for alleging that the boxer spent P3.5-B on a Sarangani Sports Complex.
"Yung 3.5 billion po, hindi po 'yan sa Sarangani. Ang halaga po ng project sa Sarangani is nasa 300 to 500 million lang po," Pacquiao said on ANC.
Pacquiao hit him with a P100-M libel case after the incident.
He's had run-ins with the law before
Quiboloy and his church have previously been probed for human trafficking investigations for years.
In 2018, Hawaii News Now reported that authorities detained Quiboloy after gun parts and undeclared cash were discovered inside his private jet. They also claimed that the pastor was running a "child sex ring" in the country.
Quiboloy's camp denied the detainment, saying "He was not charged nor was he jailed nor was he deported. There was only clarification made and after it was clarified, Pastor Quiboloy was allowed to leave the United States." Quiboloy dubbed the sex ring claims as "a pack of lies."
In January 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also probed three members of the church on the same allegations of immigration fraud.
The FBI criminal complaint states that Quiboloy’s church administrators submitted false visa applications to allow other church members to travel to the US. Upon entering the US, KOJC leaders allegedly took their passports and forced them to ask for donations for a children's charity.