FBI investigating Apollo Quiboloy’s Hawaii church for ‘aggressive fundraising’, human trafficking

Quiboloy’s lawyer denies the allegations of human trafficking 

The FBI is conducting an investigation into the Hawaii chapter of Filipino televangelist Apollo Quiboloy’s church on accusations of “aggressive fundraising” and possible human trafficking.

As first reported by Hawaii News Now, the investigation is centered around Felina Salinas, the business manager of the Waipahu chapter of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KJC) of which Quiboloy is head.

On February 13, Salinas was arrested by federal authorities after U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement found $350,000 in cash and military-grade rifles on a private plane at the Honolulu airport that was to leave for the Philippines.

According to a complaint filed by a special agent of the United States Dept. of Homeland Security, Salinas lacked to declare that they were transporting thousands of “neatly bundled” $100 bills in black socks.

Quiboloy, along with six other people including Salinas, was temporarily detained while Salinas was charged with attempted smuggling. According to legal experts, the allegations have opened up discussion on whether human trafficking was involved.

According to an official report, complainant Kristina Angeles said she came to Hawaii from the Philippines on a religious visa when Salinas made her raise funds and sell “manapua and Krispy Kreme” donuts for hours “rain or shine.”

“We’ve been slapped or yelled at,” Angeles wrote in a police statement. “The last time, I received punches over my arms and legs.”

Salinas was previously arrested in 2015 for an alleged assault on a fellow church member who said she was forced to raise funds for the church, Hawaii News Now said.

Hawaii attorney Clare Hanusz told Hawaii News Now that that church member’s allegations indicated “some of the classic signs of human trafficking and people who come under religious worker visas before have sometimes been connected with human trafficking.”

Angeles also wrote that while at a church compound in the Philippines, the church forced her to shave her head and wear an “orange t-shirt.”

Children’s Joy, the church’s foundation, was also accused of “aggressive fundraising” as well as misrepresentation. Many of the church’s younger members were often forced to sell baked goods at a local Costco to raise funds for the church.

On Tuesday, Quiboloy’s lawyer Israelito Torreon denied that the church was involved in human trafficking and that the pastor’s legal team had not received notification of the FBI investigation. He also proposed that an outside party pushed that claim to take down the church.

“That is shocking,” Torreon told ABS-CBN on Tuesday, April 3. “Somebody must be orchestrating all of these. I hope that person will be enlightened by the Lord Almighty to stop this because that’s really not true. The congregation of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy is a religious congregation. It is not engaged in human trafficking.”

Quiboloy — who has called himself the Appointed Son of God and has said his self-proclaimed immaculately conceived birth resembled that of Jesus Christ — began his religious leadership in Davao City in 1985. In the last 33 years, he has garnered a cult-like following and now claims that he has 6 million “followers” around the world.

Quiboloy has remained a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte since the latter was the mayor of Davao. Duterte said that Quiboloy has gifted Duterte expensive gifts throughout their friendship, including three properties in and around Davao City.

Klarize Medenilla

Klarize Medenilla is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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