- MalacaAang distanced itself from the raid conducted by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) church of evangelist Apollo Quiboloy in different locations in the United States, which led to the arrest of three church administrators accused of arranging sham marriages to fund a fraudulent charity.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace will not intrude in the ongoing investigation on the alleged human trafficking and fund-raising scam since it respects the laws and ordinances of the US.
If the raid is legitimate then we cannot complain about that, Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Thursday.
He assured that close ties between President Rodrigo Duterte and Quiboloy, the self-proclaimed appointed Son of God, would not affect the case.
If a crime is committed in any country then the laws of that country will have to be followed, Panelo said. We have to respect them the way we ask them to respect ours.
Reports showed that FBI agents on Thursday (Manila time) arrested three church administrators during morning raids at KOJC's offices in California and Virginia.
The three arrested church administrators, namely: Guia Cabactulan, 59; Marissa Duenas, 41; and Amanda Estopare, 48, were accused of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud.
The arrests came after fundraisers who managed to escape from the church told the FBI that they were brought to the US and forced to solicit donations for the church's charity, The Children's Joy Foundation.
The fundraisers also claimed that they were physically and psychologically abused if they failed to meet quotas.
Cabactulan was accused of withholding the passports of their volunteers and overseeing operations while Duenas was allegedly falsifying documents and information to immigration officials. Estopares was accused of being in charge of collections.
Some USD20 million was raised between 2015 and the middle of last year while there were at least 82 sham marriages over 20 years, reports showed.
In February 2018, Quiboloy was briefly detained in Hawaii after USD35,000 in cash and gun parts were found in his private plane, which was bound for the Philippines.
Quiboloy was also accused of running a child sex ring by a former church member in October 2018.
The Davao City-based KOJC claims to have seven million members worldwide.
Source: Philippines News Agency