INC: No hostage and no abduction
The admission of Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Villanueva Manalo that nobody was being held hostage in the Manalo home in Quezon City is enough to prove that his own allegations are not true, an Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) spokesperson said on Friday.
Angel is a younger brother of INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo who, together with his mother and two siblings, was expelled from INC on Thursday allegedly for trying to sow disunity in the 100-year-old indigenous Christian group.
He and his mother, Cristina “Tenny” Villanueva Manalo, posted a brief video on YouTube on Wednesday night pleading for help and claiming that their lives were in danger and that several INC ministers had been kidnapped.
Worried members of INC gathered at the gate of the Manalo home on Tandang Sora Avenue, Quezon City, demanding to see Angel and Tenny.
Police checked reports of hostage-taking at the Manalo house, but Angel refused to allow the authorities to enter the property.
Instead, he spoke to Chief Supt. Joel Pagdilao, Quezon City police director, at the gate and told him that no one was being held hostage in the house.
“No one is hurt. There is no abduction in this house,” Pagdilao told reporters early on Friday.
“They asked for privacy. Ka Angel said they were all tired,” Pagdilao said.
He also denied that INC ministers had been taken to or were being held at Camp Karingal in Quezon City.
Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista arrived after the police left, saying Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa asked him to monitor the situation.
“It’s an internal matter. [The] blogs that ministers had been kidnapped or taken hostage are not true,” Bautista told reporters.
He said he was baffled about the Manalos’ refusal to talk to the police.
About 20 police officers were deployed to the area to secure the Manalo house. Patrol cars were parked in front of the gate to bar entry in the event of a rush by followers of the Manalos.
Asked whether the Manalos could be held liable for causing public alarm, Pagdilao said: “I don’t think they caused alarm because it was quiet inside the compound.”
INC spokesperson Edwil Zabala arrived and spoke to Pagdilao and to reporters.
“There is no hostage. There is no abduction. No one is being held against their will,” Zabala told reporters.
He criticized Angel and Tenny for accusing the INC executive minister of corruption.
“Brother Eduardo Manalo is not doing anything against them. His administration is free from irregularities,” Zabala said.
Angel also spoke to reporters and explained that the sign that read “hostage” and seen in the window of the house earlier was the work of a child.
“I did not say that we were being held hostage. A child had been joking,” Angel told reporters.
That statement, INC said, was proof that Angel’s allegations were false.
“What the police, the media and the local government saw when they went to the housing compound on Thursday night was sufficient proof that the person claiming that he was being held hostage, that there was an abduction, was lying. He (Angel) himself admitted that there was nobody taking them hostage. I think that says it all that there’s no truth to the allegations,” Zabala told reporters in an interview in the INC Central Office in Quezon City.
“After he claimed that he was being held hostage, that night, when nothing was happening, he admitted that he was not being held hostage. So for us that’s sufficient, let’s add nothing to it,” Zabala added.
Zabala begged off from further commenting on the feud in the Manalo family, saying INC was concentrating on preparations for the group’s 101st anniversary on July 27.
Despite denying that he and his mother were being held hostage, Angel insisted to reporters that some INC ministers had been kidnapped.
“There are so many irregularities. Worse is that there are missing ministers,” Angel said.
He disclosed irregular practices in INC, including developing projects that did not accord with the group’s teachings.
One of those projects, he said, was the $200-million, 55,000-seat Philippine Arena in Ciudad de Victoria in Santa Maria, Bulacan province.
He said the project should not have pushed through because INC’s priority was building chapels.
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