YouTube bans Filipino pastor accused of trafficking, fraud

Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]

June 22, 2023

By UCA News reporter

Apollo Carreon Quiboloy fled to the Philippines in 2021 to avoid arrest in the US

Global video streaming platform YouTube has banned two channels owned by a Filipino evangelical pastor who fled the US two years ago to avoid arrest after being charged with sex trafficking and cash smuggling.

The social media site blocked the channels run by Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, the founder and leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church, on June 21, citing his violation of the site’s ethical and community guidelines.

Quiboloy was accused of using his channels to reach out to victims of his alleged sex crimes.

The ban came reportedly after a Twitter user posted on the site questioning how a person on the wanted list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was still using social media and reaching out to his victims.

His channels had more than 47,000 subscribers. He used the channels to broadcast his weekly sermons.

Quiboloy, 73, who claimed himself as the ‘appointed son of God’ was temporarily detained in Hawaii in 2018 after authorities found US$350,000 in cash and rifle parts in his private plane.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, and sex trafficking of children; sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; conspiracy; and bulk cash smuggling, and on November 10, 2021, according to the FBI. A federal warrant was issued for his arrest.

He fled to the Philippines the same year and is known for his friendship with former president, Rodrigo Duterte.

“He was charged with sex trafficking because he allegedly forced young women to have sex with him so they did not face ‘eternal damnation’,” Ronald Aguas, 37, a former member of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church, told UCA News

Aguas said he was an avid supporter of Quiboloy and became one of the church’s cluster leaders because of his “knowledge” of scriptures.

“Unlike the Catholic Church and its priests, Pastor Quiboloy could explain biblical verses and could connect the verse to everyday life. This is his strength. His critics could say anything that they liked but his sermons really made sense to ordinary people like me,” Aguas said.

Aguas broke ties with the pastor in 2009 after he was allegedly “forced” to surrender more than 50 percent of his income to the church.

“I thought it too much. I also have a family to raise. I think Quiboloy’s group is a money-making scheme among its members and outside the group…. I decided to leave,” Aguas said.

Media reports claimed Quiboloy’s sex trafficking cases involved ordering physically attractive women to perform “special forms of service to God” by being his “spiritual wives.”

He justified this by quoting biblical passages and asserting that it was in line with his so-called “Solomonic ministry” —  a reference to King Solomon in the Old Testament who had 700 wives and 300 mistresses, the report said.

The FBI, which investigated complaints against him in the U.S. said, the pastor molested women, including minors, aged from 12 to 25 years of age.

Furthermore, it is alleged that females were recruited to work as personal assistants or “pastoral.” The victims prepared his meals, cleaned his residences, gave him massages, and were required to have sex with Quiboloy in what the pastorals called “night duty,” the FBI said.

However, the pastor faces no charges in the Philippines, said Oliver Diniega, a lawyer from the state-run Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking. 

“There is no formal charge against him for sex trafficking [here]. Allegations were made while he was there [in the US],” Diniega told UCA News.

Quiboloy is reportedly based in Davao province now, the home province and stronghold of his friend and former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Vernice Bangoy, a Catholic from Davao City, disputed the claim and said the pastor had one police case against him in the province.

“He had a case once here in Davao province, but he was not formally indicted. I talked to a relative of the victim and she just said Quiboloy has already settled with them,” Bangoy told UCA News.

“He is on his [Duterte’s] turf. No police authority would dare do anything because he is so powerful there. He even owns a ‘prayer mountain’ where his followers can spend retreats and pray,” Bangoy added.

UCA News contacted Quiboloy and his lawyers for comment but did not receive a response at the time of filing this report.