Hawaii NGO accuses Quiboloy foundation of fraud

Paterno Esmaquel II
Hawaii NGO accuses Quiboloy foundation of fraud
In an email to Rappler, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy's lawyer responds by saying 'jealousy' can often lead groups to make 'disparaging comments about others'

MANILA, Philippines – A leading nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Hawaii accused Children’s Joy Foundation – a group founded by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy – of engaging in fraud by using the name of Hawaii’s Institute for Human Services (IHS) to raise funds in the United States.

IHS said it will soon file a police complaint against Quiboloy’s foundation because it has “fraudulently misrepresented” the institute.

In an email to Rappler on Friday, April 6, Quiboloy’s lawyer in Hawaii, Michael Jay Green, responded by saying “jealousy” can often lead groups to make “disparaging comments about others.”

IHS is a 40-year-old organization that calls itself the “oldest, largest, and most comprehensive” provider of services for the homeless in Hawaii.

The group accused of fraud, Children’s Joy Foundation, is a 20-year-old charity founded by Quiboloy, whose members believe is the Appointed Son of God.  

Quiboloy is the leader of Davao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name. He is also a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte, who ruled Davao City for more than two decades. (READ: Duterte admits receiving properties, cars from Quiboloy)

The accusation of IHS comes as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probes Quiboloy’s church for alleged human trafficking in Hawaii. 

‘Unauthorized fundraiser’

In an email, IHS narrated the alleged fraud committed by Children’s Joy Foundation.

Kimo Carvalho, community relations director of IHS, said that “more than two dozen IHS Hawaii donors and supporters” alerted IHS “that children are conducting door-to-door baked good sales on behalf of our organization.”

“When asked by IHS Hawaii supporters for identification or confirmation, we have confirmed that children are flashing a Children’s Joy Foundation-issued badge. When asked to describe each child conducting door-to-door sales, each has been described differently indicating multiple children are delivering the same message, yet all are consistently described as being Filipino with minor accents,” Carvalho said.

Carvalho told Rappler on Friday that IHS has received reports on these unauthorized activities between March 27 and April 2.

He described it as “an unauthorized fundraiser without any benefit to IHS Hawaii.” 

Public warning

Carvalho provided Rappler with a sample picture of the badge used by volunteers of Children’s Joy Foundation.

The badge contains the name and photo of the bearer, with the designation “volunteer.”

It also bears the website URL of Children’s Joy Foundation USA (www.cfjusa.org), and the following address: “2530 N. Parkside Ave., Chicago, IL.” The address of Children’s Joy USA on its website is as follows: “1123 East Colorado St., Glendale, California.” 

With these details, Carvalho then advised the pubic “to file police reports when further incidents occur.”

On March 30, IHS also posted the following warning on its Facebook page: “This month, donors and supporters have complained about a group of kids from the Children’s Joy Foundation doing door-to-door baked good sales to fund raise for IHS. Please be advised, this is a fraud and is tied to a human trafficking operation in Hawaii.”

“If you encounter these kids, call 911 and report any occurrences. For any questions or concerns, you may also contact us at info@ihshawaii.org. Mahalo!” said IHS on Facebook.

Quiboloy lawyer: ‘Clearly a misunderstanding’

Quiboloy’s lawyer in Hawaii, Michael Jay Green, is a veteran lawyer who, according to his website, has “more than 35 years of experience” honed by “1,000-plus trials in 22 states.”

Rappler sought Green’s reaction to IHS’ Facebook post. 

Green replied on Friday: “I’ve reviewed your email and am aware of the Institute of Human Services (IHS) Facebook posting regarding the Children’s Joy Foundation. Jealousy can often times lead an organization and individuals to publish untruths and disparaging comments about others.”

“The Kingdom of Jesus Christ has dedicated its mission for years to help others as part of their mission statement,” Green said.

“Any misunderstandings with IHS, was clearly a misunderstanding. We are taking steps to make sure there are no further misunderstandings,” Quiboloy’s lawyer added.

That this is a “misunderstanding” is the same response received by IHS from Quiboloy’s foundation.

Carvalho said representatives of Children’s Joy Foundation “continue to state this is a misunderstanding and that their children volunteers are mistakenly speaking the wrong message.”

IHS, however, still “banned the Children’s Joy Foundation from further engaging with IHS Hawaii, and will be filing a police report in the coming days.”

IHS said they made this decision following reports that link Quiboloy’s church to human trafficking, “and after hearing about other similar incidences occurring to other nonprofit organizations in Hawaii.” 

FBI investigation

Quiboloy and his church have recently made headlines in the US because of issues involving money and human trafficking.

In February, Quiboloy was temporarily detained in Hawaii after authorities reportedly found $350,000 in undeclared cash and rifle parts aboard a private plane he boarded.

More than a month later, Hawaii News Now said the FBI is probing Felina Salinas – reportedly the business manager of Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name – for alleged human trafficking.

Salinas was among those aboard Quiboloy’s plane when authorities accosted their party for undeclared cash and rifle parts. Salinas was charged with attempted bulk cash smuggling.

The news outlet said Salinas was previously arrested in 2015 “for allegedly assaulting a fellow church member, who claimed she was forced to raise money.”

The alleged victim, former Quiboloy church member Kristina Angeles, said she was made to sell “manapua and Krispy Kreme” doughnuts for church fundraisers “rain or shine.” She said church members were punished if they didn’t sell enough.

“We’ve been slapped or yelled at. The last time, I…received punches over my arms and legs,” said Angeles’ statement as quoted by Hawaii News Now

Clare Hanusz, a local attorney, said Angeles’ case “did indicate some of the classic signs of human trafficking.”

Green, who is also Salinas’ lawyer, however said the accusation was baseless, and the case “never should have been filed in the first place,” according to Hawaii News Now. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.