DAVAO CITY—Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s U.S.-based attorney has called garbage the pastor’s co-defendant’s report that she was cooperating with the U.S. government to identify the pastor.
“I just want to clarify something. There’s a reason the US government leaked this kind of information: they’re trying to poison the well,” said attorney Michael Green, who is handling Quiboloy’s US sex trafficking charges. .
“Honestly, it’s crap. Everyone in the world should know how the United States [legal] system works. When he makes this statement that there is a conspiracy, he wants to give the impression that the accused, the pastor, is guilty,” Green said. “When I see the government release something, it makes people think about what these people have done. That’s what they [do:] divulge this stuff, make it national, like a Wild West. It’s like a game; but it’s not a fun game.
The attorney added that the U.S. government is disclosing “stuff like this as the case progresses.”
“I just feel sad for Maria de Leon. I’m sorry this is happening and it would happen,” Green said.
He added that he suspects that government prosecutors, “even her attorney, have scared her and the other dissidents to death that if they admit guilt they could be given probation.”
Green said that by entering into a plea bargain, de Leon had the opportunity to return to his family without going to jail.
“She just wants to go home,” Green said last Sunday during an online press briefing hosted by Quiboloy’s Davao City media team.
Green and Quiboloy’s Filipino attorneys in Manila and Davao City said any confession or information that de Leon, 73, may give U.S. prosecutors “binds the confession only to the confessor.”
Attorney Ferdinand Topacio said de Leon was not a member of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) of Quiboloy, but only ran a paralegal services office in the United States.
“She’s an independent entrepreneur; i.e. an office that accepts anyone, not just for marriages, visas and all the rest.
His admission against the pastor would not impact the case saying that an admission by a third party like De Leon “is an act of a third party, made by a person unrelated to the main party, that which means that it cannot affect anything in the case because the confession binds only the confessor.
“This is a universally accepted legal principle recognized not only by our system, but even by the American legal system,” Topacio added.
He said De Leon had no direct connection to Quiboloy or had any communication with him. “As an independent contractor, she has no personal knowledge of how KOJC is run; his doctrines on things like marriage.
He added that it would not be a stretch that “a senile person like her could have been pressured into a plea bargain or co-operation”.
“She doesn’t have a personal lawyer and she was given a lawyer, the equivalent of a court-appointed lawyer in the Philippines, whether she likes the lawyer or not.”
Furthermore, Topacio said, “the prosecution for sex trafficking will take place in 2023. And the universally accepted legal principle states that anyone accused is always presumed innocent. This means that the burden of proof is on the prosecution and not on the the accused.
As with the previous case of the Federal Bureau of Investigation poster soliciting information on the pastor’s whereabouts, Topacio believed the new press release was another attempt by the US government to intervene in Philippine affairs.
“I think it’s part of the tendency of the US government to interfere in elections. The timing – first with the poster, it’s totally unnecessary. Now, just a month away from the elections, when everything is silent, they are proposing a new development in this case, to pin the pastor, who is immediately linked to President Duterte,” he said.
On April 1, De Leon allegedly admitted to federal prosecutors that she was processing fraudulent documents for Quiboloy KOJC members. It was released for publication by the DOJ’s US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
“That’s why it’s April Fool’s Day,” Topacio said.