FBI investigates Quiboloy church in Hawaii for trafficking

MANILA, Philippines – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating the church of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy for alleged human trafficking in Hawaii.

In an exclusive report, 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 one of those aboard Quiboloy's plane when US authorities found $350,000 in undeclared cash and rifle parts inside the aircraft on February 13, before the group headed back to the Philippines. Quiboloy was temporarily detained while Salinas was charged with attempted bulk cash smuggling. 

Sources of Hawaii News, a local news outlet with its own verified Facebook page, said that shortly after Salinas' arrest on Quiboloy's plane, the FBI "pursued the trafficking angle." 

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" donuts 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." Salinas' lawyer, Michael Green, however said the accusation was baseless, and the case "never should have been filed in the first place."

Hawaii News Now said that "consumers have accused the church's charity, the Children’s Joy Foundation, of aggressive fundraising and even misrepresentation."

Rappler is still trying to reach Green for comment as of posting time. 

Quiboloy, who calls himself the Appointed Son of God, leads a church that began in Davao City and now claims to have up to 6 million members in the Philippines and overseas. He is a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte. – Rappler.com 

Paterno R. 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.