Ex-Philippine leader Duterte slams ‘overkill’ in police raid for fugitive spiritual adviser

Pastor Apollo Quiboloy is wanted in the Philippines and U.S. on child abuse, trafficking charges.
BenarNews staff
Davao City, Philippines
Ex-Philippine leader Duterte slams ‘overkill’ in police raid for fugitive spiritual adviser Supporters of Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the Philippines-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, hold a prayer rally at a park in Manila, March 4, 2024.
Ted Aljibe/AFP

Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at the nation’s police force Tuesday, calling a massive raid to hunt down his spiritual adviser who is wanted for alleged sexual abuse and other crimes “overkill.” 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it had deployed about a hundred officers to three compounds owned by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in southern Davao City on Monday to serve arrest warrants against him and five others issued by two local courts. Police did not find any of the six suspects.

“I strongly condemn the use of excessive and unnecessary force in serving the warrant of arrest for Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ [KOJC] by police officers who are not even from Davao City,” said Duterte, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s immediate predecessor.

The ex-leader questioned the Marcos administration’s stance when it comes to protecting an individual’s constitutional rights and dealing with critics.

“Will this overkill be the trademark of this administration when dealing with individuals who are merely accused of committing a crime and have not been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt?” Duterte said.

“Will they exhibit the same lack of self-restraint they have shown towards critics of this administration when dealing with their supporters?” he added. 

Duterte Quiboloy.jpeg
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy (right) and other supporters join Rodrigo Duterte (center) at a birthday celebration in Pangasinan province, northern Philippines, during the 2016 presidential campaign, March 27, 2016. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]

The Duterte and Marcos families have fallen out after they formed an alliance in the run-up to the 2022 general election, with Sara Duterte, the former president’s daughter, running as Marcos’ vice-presidential pick. She is still serving as his VP but has been openly critical of a plan by the administration to engage in Norway-brokered talks with communist rebels.  

The PNP defended Monday’s operation in Davao, saying it was conducted in strict compliance with legal security protocols and with due respect for all involved parties.

“Recognizing the high-profile nature of the subject, the PNP ensured the presence of an appropriate number of officers during the operation to maintain order and prevent any unforeseen incidents,” it said in a statement Tuesday.

The national police also urged Quiboloy, the fugitive televangelist, to surrender and face the allegations against him.

On Tuesday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who has been investigating alleged abuses in Quiboloy’s church, called on the pastor to peacefully give up and for Duterte not to cover for him.

“For Quiboloy, you should surrender now. Cooperate with our law enforcers for once. Face the cases and accusations against you. You have nowhere to hide,” Hontiveros told BenarNews. 

She also called on the national police leadership not to be influenced by Duterte's allies on Quiboloy. 

Asked whether Quiboloy was still in the Philippines, Col. Jean Fajardo, the PNP spokesperson, told reporters on Tuesday there was no confirmation or validation from the Bureau of Immigration that the pastor had left the country.

Quiboloy had earlier this year denied the allegations against him and accused Marcos of working with the United States in a plot to kidnap and “eliminate” him. 

Charges against Quiboloy

Quiboloy, 73, is wanted in the Philippines for child abuse and sexual abuse and trafficking in the Philippines, while also facing the same charges 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. KOJC has branches in California.

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.

Founded in 1985, KOJC has grown in numbers – about four million in the Philippines and two million abroad, including in the United States – and with it, Quiboloy’s political clout. The sect, and his name, grew in national prominence when his friend, Duterte, was elected president of the Philippines in 2016. 

Last March, Quiboloy’s church named Duterte as the administrator of its properties, amid the legal woes facing the pastor, according to the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

SMNI, Quiboloy’s media arm, acted as a propaganda vehicle for Duterte during his term as president.

Duterte once publicly admitted that he had received expensive cars and property from Quiboloy when he was mayor of Davao, although he claimed to have returned them. 

Jason Gutierrez and Basilio Sepe contributed to this report from Manila, and Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navaels from Davao City, southern Philippines.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.