CNN Philippines — The camp of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy has denied any connection between the televangelist’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ church and the Los Angeles paralegal who has admitted to conspiring with KOJC leaders to illegally obtain United States residency for its church members.
Quiboloy’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said that paralegal Maria De Leon is not connected with the pastor and the KOJC.
“Si Ms. or Mrs. Maria De Leon ay hindi kaanib ng Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Siya po ay namumuno sa isang paralegal services bureau sa California. Ito po ay isang independent contractor,” Topacio said in a press conference on Sunday.
“Si Maria De Leon ay walang kaugnayang personal o opisyal man kay Pastor Apollo Quiboloy. Hindi po sila nag-usap kahit kailan. Hindi po sila magkakila. Hindi po sila nagkita,” he added.
According to the United States Department of Justice, De Leon has admitted to conniving with the church administrators for eight years by preparing and filing fraudulent documents to seek permanent residency and citizenship for the members of the KOJC.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier included Quiboloy and two other church members in its wanted list for sex trafficking charges.
Topacio said De Leon’s admission cannot affect Quiboloy and other co-accused in the case.
“‘Yun pong pag-amin ni Maria De Leon—ayun po ay tinatawag sa ating legal system, hindi lamang po dito sa Pilipinas, kundi pati rin sa Amerika—na ang tawag po rito ay res inter alios acta o ibig sabihin ay acts of a third person,” he said.
“Hindi po maaaring makaapekto ang kahit anong pag-amin niya laban kay Apollo Quiboloy o kahit kanino sa kanyang mga co-accused,” he added.
De Leon is one of the nine defendants who were charged in November 2021 in a 42-count indictment that alleges a labor trafficking scheme wherein church members solicit donations in the U.S. as volunteers of a bogus charity called Children’s Joy Foundation purportedly based in Glendale, California.
Topacio said the church-operated foundation is legitimate.
“‘Yang Children’s Joy Foundation ay lehitimong pundasyon. Hindi po maipagkakaila na libo-libong bata ang natutulungan niyan. Meron po ‘yang award. Ayan po ay kinikilala ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) ng Pilipinas. Ayan ay rehistrado bilang charitable foundation sa Securities and Exchange Commission,” he said.