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INC minister in US defies church

The headquarters of the powerful Iglesia ni Cristo on Commonwealth Avenue in Diliman, Quezon City.

The headquarters of the powerful Iglesia ni Cristo on Commonwealth Avenue in Diliman, Quezon City. INQUIRER PHOTO

A US-based Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) minister refused to read circulars that announced the expulsion from the indigenous church of the mother and three siblings of INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo, as more questions and alleged secrets of the group continued to leak out.

It also now appears that among the family members expelled for allegedly sowing dissension in church ranks, Manalo’s mother, Cristina “Ka Tenny” Manalo, is actually in the United States with her son Marco. Brother and sister Angel and Lottie Hemedez are still reportedly being held in the INC compound in Quezon City.

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INC minister Louie Cayabyab who served in Fremont, California, said in a recorded video that he would rather step down than read the expulsion circulars during worship services.

“I decided, brethren, that I won’t read those circulars… because in my heart, in my heart of hearts, I can’t take it. It is, it is just so, so difficult to betray one’s heart. I know, I know the repercussion of this and I know what will be the consequence. I know that I will be stripped of my duty. From now on, I will no longer be a minister, probably I will be expelled from the church, but I will take it, brothers and sisters. We admonish you to remain in the church no matter what happens.”

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While Cayabyab was speaking, sobs could be heard from the crowd.

An INC source said another minister, identified as Joel San Pedro, was reportedly added to the expulsion list. Another expelled INC member, Joy Yuson, who used to work in the security department of what is called “templo central,” or the INC headquarters in Quezon City, came out in a video clip and appealed to his fellow INC members not to be afraid of expulsion.

Meanwhile, INC members expressed concern about Bro. Lowell Menorca II and his Japanese wife, Seiko Otsuka Menorca, whose whereabouts are unknown.

‘Fetched’ from Bulan

Menorca and his wife were reported abducted by INC members in Bulan, Sorsogon, on July 17. Bulan’s deputy police chief, Insp. Deo Cabildo, said a convoy of six vehicles arrived in Bulan at 11 a.m. on July 11 and introduced themselves as INC members when stopped by the local police.

The group told the police they were on their way to Butag to “fetch their minister and bring him to the INC central office.” They left town about an hour later but Cabildo said he did not know if Menorca was with them.

Earlier, a blog written by Antonio Ramirez Ebangelista named Menorca as one of the nine ministers expelled or kidnapped for being critical of the INC.

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Extortion in Bulacan

Lowell later mysteriously surfaced in a jail in Cavite but was reported on Sunday to have been suddenly released by the police after he allegedly signed an affidavit that he “was not abducted.”

Meanwhile, expelled INC minister Roel Rosal alleged he had a letter from a Bulacan mayor detailing how local INC ministers received payments to ensure bloc voting in past elections.

Rosal, who has been holding a vigil outside the Manalo compound since Friday along with his wife Shirley, aired his own agenda: To personally speak to executive minister Eduardo Manalo to appeal his case.

“The Bulacan mayor was a childhood friend of my wife. He gave the letter to us so we could forward it to Ka Eduardo. The contents of the letter were allegations that some ministers accepted money from [the politician], in exchange for votes [of the church congregation],” Rosal said, in an interview with media.

The highest payment was “around P100,000,” Rosal said.

The mayor, who won the last elections, nevertheless expressed doubt the INC had voted for him, which was why he wanted to complain to Ka Eduardo, Rosal said.

Rosal said he and his wife had sent the letter to Eduardo via courier, but never received a response. Instead, they were surprised when, in June this year, they ended up excommunicated from the church by the Sanggunian (council) “for going against the administration,” a tearful Shirley said.

Following the letter from the Bulacan mayor, the Rosals had also written in January to the INC executive minister about a barangay (village) captain in Parañaque who also paid INC ministers to ensure his post. The barangay captain won despite being known as a drunkard and a drug addict, Rosal said.

Rosal named the INC “tagapangasiwa” (supervisor) involved in the bloc voting scam as Israel Flores, and Albert Dy in Bulacan. He said other ministers were also involved, as their “bagmen.” Rosal, however, refused to name the politicians.

‘Ka Erdy’s time’

Rosal said he wanted the INC to “investigate” his case, as he was simply trying to expose corruption. Rosal also expressed hopes he could be reinstated. “During Ka Erdy’s time, it’s the corrupt ministers who would have been excommunicated. I don’t know about Ka Eduardo. With all this happening, he’s being so quiet,” Rosal said.

Rosal said he had been receiving threats from the ministers and “tagapangasiwa” to stop airing his complaints, or else he would get sued. He expressed belief the missing INC ministers “also knew about these corrupt practices, that’s why they were abducted.”

“There’s no transparency with [church] funds. It just goes to [auditor] Jun Santos, his family and allies,” Rosal alleged.

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TAGS: bloc voting, Church, defiance, Graft and Corruption, Iglesia, Iglesia ni Cristo, INC, Religion
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