By: Danny Petilla – Philippine Daily Inquirer /February 06, 2022
LOS ANGELES — What is it about women that disgraced Pastor Apollo Quiboloy has decided to make them a big part of his religious empire?
All of Quiboloy’s lieutenants facing a host of criminal charges with him in the United States are women.
Felina Salinas, Teresita Tolibas Dandan, Guia Cabactulan, Helen Panilag, Marissa Duenas, Amanda Estopare, Bettina Padilla Roces and Maria de Leon are all facing serious legal trouble for helping Quiboloy build his alleged criminal enterprise in the United States, according to the US Department of Justice.
Quiboloy and his female associates were described by Judge Cormac Carney, chief judge of the Central District of California, as part of a “dangerous and powerful criminal organization” that engages in child sex trafficking, human trafficking, bulk cash smuggling, money laundering, forced labor and immigration fraud.
But the “appointed son of God” calls them his “miracle workers,” a select few who have earned his trust.
To the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), however, these women are Quiboloy’s accomplices in the elaborate human trafficking and fraudulent charities operation that has raked in millions of dollars for his megachurch the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC).
Known as Sister EngEng, Salinas is the leader of Quiboloy’s operations in Hawaii. Described as the most loyal of Quiboloy’s followers, the 51-year-old Salinas was arrested by US immigration authorities at the Honolulu airport after they found gun parts and $335,000 cash in a private jet before they were to fly back to the Philippines on Feb. 13, 2018. She declared only $40,000 of the sum.
The usually talkative Quiboloy was silent as federal authorities charged Salinas with lying to federal authorities during that day’s operation, according to the FBI.
Cabactulan, 61, is in federal jail awaiting trial. She is the alleged leader of KOJC’s operations on the US mainland, tracking and reporting money raised by its hundreds of “volunteers,” preparing sham marriages and faking immigration documents.
Dandan, 59, is Quiboloy’s trusted international administrator in the KOJC and managed Quiboloy’s fake US charity, Children’s Joy Foundation (CJF).
Duenas, known in KOJC circles as MD, is the church’s 43-year-old administrator in Van Nuys, California, who prepared fake immigration documents for their workers coming to the United States from the Philippines.
Panilag, 56, of Davao City, is another of Quiboloy’s trusted asssociates. She oversees KOJC’s fundraising operations around the world.
Known as Lui, the 72-year-old De Leon is the oldest of Quiboloy’s accomplices. She owns Liberty Legal Document Services in Koreatown, Los Angeles. She is said to be the KOJC’s document forger for sham marriages.
Nicknamed Kuki, Roces, 48, handled financial matters and made sure the money collected by KOJC’s “miracle workers” are kept flowing back to Philippine-based banks mostly through Banco de Oro, MoneyGram and Western Union.
Estopare, 50, made sure that money collected in the United States are funneled into Quiboloy’s accounts in the Philippines. She is Quiboloy’s trusted associate in the US East Coast and is based in Norfolk, Virginia.
All these allegations were culled from the FBI and US court documents.
“He (Quiboloy) is a diabolical wolf in sheep’s clothing. The wealthy charlatan poses as a minister of righteousness,” said Cedric Fisher of the Truthkeepers, an organization tracking down religious cults around the world.
The US authorities have not yet formally requested for Quiboloy’s extradition and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had said there would be no special treatment for Quiboloy from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“The DOJ, through the Iacat (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking), will perform its mandate under the law, regardless of the persons involved,” Guevarra told reporters in November last year.
The Iacat monitors and oversees the strict implementation of Republic Act No. 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
“We have an existing extradition treaty with the US. We also have an existing agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with that country,” Guevarra said.
He said a 2020 case for rape, child abuse, ill-treatment filed against Quiboloy had been dismissed by the Davao City prosecutor but is under review by the DOJ.
In a bind
By placing Quiboloy on its Most Wanted list, the FBI is upping the ante against President Duterte’s administration, sending signals that they want the 71-year-old pastor extradited to face trial in the United States.
These legal troubles facing Quiboloy are also putting the President, his close friend, in a bind since the administration is staunchly against human trafficking.
If he publicly shows his support for Quiboloy, he is in danger of violating his government’s own policy which has been lauded by the US Department of State in the past.
But right now, Duterte is of little use to the beleaguered Quiboloy.
If just one of his co-indictees in the United States decides to help federal authorities and testify against their leader, Quiboloy and his supposed divinity will be tested if indeed he can stop these mounting troubles.