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CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – American and Filipino lawyers of embattled Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) leader Pastor Apollo Quiboloy took turns in lambasting the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Biden administration for imposing sanctions on the controversial preacher over alleged serious human rights abuses and corruption.
But at their online press conference on Saturday, December 10, Quiboloy’s legal team said they cannot do anything about it legally.
Hawaii-based lawyer Michael Jay Green, KOJC’s general counsel, accused the administration of US President Joe Biden of singling out Quiboloy while turning a blind eye to alleged human rights violations by the US in other countries.
“I’m a little bit stunned. It’s hard to believe that this is coming from my country. I’ve never seen this before. This article by our treasury department has already convicted him,” Green told reporters, referring to a press release posted on the US treasury department’s website.
Green slammed Biden: “Our President (Biden) is talking the talk but not walking the walk.”
In the press release, the US treasury department stated that Quiboloy committed “serious human rights abuse, including a pattern of systemic and pervasive rape of girls as young as 11 years old, as well as other physical abuse.”
Another US-based Quiboloy lawyer, Manny Medrano, said he was disappointed that the OFAC picked Saturday – the anniversary of the Declaration of the Universal Human Rights – “to violate the human rights” of his client.
“The press release has maligned the name of the pastor (Quiboloy). The press release is mere grandstanding. It is ironic that the US is sanctioning the pastor today. It is (a) sad day,” Medrano said.
For his part, Philippine-based lawyer Ferdinand Topacio expressed dismay, saying he had held the US justice system in high regard until the OFAC press release on Saturday.
“The law must hear before it condemns. I don’t know what impelled this. The human rights of Quiboloy have been violated on this day. This is truly unprecedented. The sanctity of having trials before sanctions has been violated,” Topacio said.
In the same press release, the OFAC stated that it was implementing the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act against Quiboloy.
Under this law, US officials are allowed to sanction foreign people accused of human rights violations. The sanction enables the OFAC to seize and freeze the properties and interests of people indicted under the Magnitsky Act.
However, Medrano said he was not worried about any seizures or freezes of any of Quiboloy’s properties in the US.
“What’s not going to happen is federal agents seize stuff. There’s not a whole lot to do. These are all false and invasive allegations. We are not losing sleep on whether the property (will) be seized. This is a toothless statement. It’s just sad and pathetic,” he said.
Legally, Green said, there was nothing they could do against the OFAC press release.
“I don’t even give them credit for this junk. We know it’s false. We can’t do anything, civilly, to sue them. There is nothing legally we can do,” a visibly irked Green said.
Green also pointed out that a US district court has agreed to postpone the trial for another year.
“If you (US government) think we’ll give up, they have another thing coming. I have more evidence here to defend than for the government (can) prosecute. We’ll give them everything we’ve got,” he said. – Rappler.com