By Benjamin Pulta

Apollo Quiboloy (Photo courtesy of Quiboloy FB page)

MANILA – The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the transfer of venue of the sexual and child abuse charges against Apollo Quiboloy from Mindanao to Metro Manila.

In a statement, the court said that pursuant to its constitutional power to order a change of venue to avoid a miscarriage of justice, the Supreme Court’s Second Division granted the request of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla to move the venue of the two criminal cases against the religious leader from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Davao City to the RTC of Quezon City.

In granting the DOJ’s request, the high court said it finds compelling reasons to justify the transfer of venue, noting that “the accused (is) a well-known religious leader, being influential.”

“As this could cause local biases and a strong possibility that witnesses cannot freely testify due to fear and influence of the accused, the Court found it prudent and judicious to order the transfer of the cases to Quezon City,” the SC said.

The Court directed the Davao City RTC Branch 12 to forward the entire records of the cases to the Office of the Executive Judge of the Quezon City RTC within three days from notice.

Upon receipt of the case records, the Quezon City RTC Executive Judge was directed to raffle off the cases among the judges in the station.

The Court further directed judges in Davao City and in other courts in Mindanao, where future related cases involving Quiboloy and his co-accused may be filed, to order the transmittal of the records to the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Quezon City RTC and Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City.

In a letter dated April 4, 2024, Remulla requested the transfer of venue of the cases, “considering the significance of the subject cases extends beyond the local context, touching on broader national policies, public interest, and security concerns; and the preservation of integrity of the proceedings as there is a likelihood of local biases potentially affecting the trial’s impartiality in Davao City.” (PNA)