Philippine pastor who styles himself as ‘son of god’ accused of rape at senate hearing

A Philippine pastor linked to former president Rodrigo Duterte has been accused of repeatedly raping women and telling them to “sacrifice” their bodies to the “appointed son of god”, in the latest revelations from a senate probe into sex-trafficking allegations facing the sect leader.

Apollo Quiboloy, who is Duterte’s spiritual adviser, heads the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KJOC) church in Davao City, where three women on Tuesday alleged they were sexually abused by the pastor over years.

The identities of the women, two Ukrainian and one Filipino, were masked behind the pseudonyms Sofia, Nina and Amanda. All told similar stories of their abuse during their testimony before opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros’ committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality.

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Senator Risa Hontiveros at the senate hearing on January 23. Photo: Facebook/hontiverosrisa

Nina told the senate committee over a Zoom call that she, her mother and her siblings were devoted members of KOJC in Ukraine. In 2012, she flew to Davao City after receiving an invitation from Quiboloy.

The sect claims to have 4 million members in the Philippines and another 2 million abroad, including some in Hong Kong.

Several months after arriving, Nina said she was called upon by Quiboloy to become a “pastoral”, a term used by the sect to refer to personal attendants to the pastor.

According to Nina, she did not understand what Quiboloy meant when he said a pastoral “must sacrifice everything, including your body”, taking it to mean that she would not be allowed to marry.

She testified that she was “sexually abused by Quiboloy” for eight years, from 2013 to 2021, during which she met other “Ukrainian pastorals”.

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This image shows Apollo Quiboloy on a screen during a service of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in Wanchai, Hong Kong, on July 24, 2016. Photo: Felix Wong

Nina said each pastoral had “night duty” and the schedule varied for each woman. Some were abused only once or twice, while others, like her, were abused “every week”.

“Every time I [went to his room], I prayed he would just be sleeping and not touching me,” she told the committee.

When she rejected his advances after he entered her room one night, he told her she was “going to hell”.

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Sofia, the other witness from Ukraine, testified via Zoom that the abuse for her started in 2014 when she was 21 years old.

She said there was a dorm-like building that housed mainly Ukrainians, but she shared a room with a Filipino pastoral who introduced herself as Jackielyn Roy, whom Sofia described as “one of the closest” to Quiboloy.

Sofia testified that Roy one night led her to the pastor’s room and told her to massage his feet before he slept. He then removed her clothes and abused her.

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A witness at the senate hearing on January 23. Photo: Facebook/hontiverosrisa

Amanda, the Filipino third witness, told the senate hearing she was sexually abused by Quiboloy from age 17.

“[Roy] told me this was a special privilege granted to pastorals because not everyone could touch and approach ‘the appointed son of god’,” Amanda said. “She told me to just give myself to him.”

Amanda said she steeled herself through the sexual assault by telling herself the situation was part of God’s will.

When asked by Senator Hontiveros how many pastorals there were, Amanda recalled that at one point they all met and she counted some 200 of them. But she added that only “inner circle” pastoral members like her regularly performed “night duty” for Quiboloy.

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Philippine sect leader Apollo Quiboloy speaks during a forum in Davao City on March 19, 2010. Photo: AFP

‘Detestable crimes’

Quiboloy, 73, has long been dogged by accusations of sexual impropriety. Although he has not previously faced charges in the Philippines, he was indicted for a number of crimes, including the transborder sex-trafficking of children by a federal grand jury in California in November 2021, as a result of his church’s actions in the United States.

He is currently on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s wanted list.

Quiboloy is known for having a close relationship with former president Duterte. After the pastor was indicted in the US, Duterte visited KJOC headquarters. “We are friends. I’d like to stress that to everyone, to all and sundry,” Duterte was quoted as telling Quiboloy in a March 2022 press release issued by the presidential palace.

Duterte has said that the support of Quiboloy and his millions of followers was instrumental to his 2016 presidential victory.

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Former Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte has defended Apollo Quiboloy in the past. Photo: Getty Images/TNS

Duterte’s successor, President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, also thanked Quiboloy for backing his 2022 win. The pastor’s TV network, SMNI, hosted the lone presidential debate that Marcos Jnr attended.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao, who was a presidential candidate at the time, declined to join the debate because he said Quiboloy had “molested and abused children”.

“I cannot, in good conscience, be part of any activity organised by a man wanted for detestable crimes,” Pacquiao said.

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Quiboloy defied a subpoena to appear at the senate hearing on Tuesday in Manila, sending a lawyer instead. However, congressional rules bar lawyers from speaking on their clients’ behalf.

The rules also state a person who ignores a summons from the committee or refuses to answer questions can be arrested and detained.

The committee said it would subpoena Roy at its next hearing and that it expected Quiboloy to attend.

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