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Philippine court orders arrest of religious leader with ties to Duterte

MANILA — A Philippine court has ordered the arrest of a church founder and longtime friend of former President Rodrigo Duterte, on charges of human trafficking and sexual abuse of a woman, court documents showed.

The evangelist preacher, who also figures on the most wanted list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US, is followed by millions of people in the Philippines, where church leaders are highly influential in elections.

A family court in the southern city of Davao has ordered the arrest of Apollo Quiboloy, a self-proclaimed "owner of the universe" and "appointed son of god", after he was indicted last month by the justice department on charges several years old.

A lawyer for Quiboloy did not respond to a request for comment. Duterte's representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the US, Quiboloy faces separate charges of sex trafficking, based on accusations of coercing girls and young women to have sex with him, charges he has denied.

Last month's indictment by the Philippine authorities was a reversal of a 2020 decision to dismiss the charges.

The victim's "persistent legal battle has brought new light to the gravity of her accusations," the Philippine justice department said.

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