Probe into Iglesia abductions not yet closed – de Lima
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday clarified that the investigation into allegations of abduction of members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) is not yet closed.
De Lima said an initial report was already submitted to her by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“My instruction is bilisan na yan [investigation] para malaman na,” de Lima said.
The investigation, according to de Lima, is focused on the issue of alleged abductions and the situation of Nathaniel Felix “Angel” Manalo.
“Ano ba talaga ang sitwasyon sa loob? Marami kasing speculation why they are holding out in there,” de Lima told reporters.
Atty. Manuel Eduarte, chief of the NBI-Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division, said Monday that they have closed its investigation after coordination with the INC’s Legal Office and after visiting the house of Angel Manalo.
Felix Nathaniel and his mother, Cristina “Tenny” Villanueva Manalo, were expelled after they uploaded a video on YouTube claiming that their lives were in danger and that some Iglesia ministers were missing and allegedly abducted.
Tenny is the widow of the late Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eraño “Ka Erdy” Manalo.
Eduarte said they were not allowed to enter the Manalo compound in Tandang Sora, Quezon City.
De Lima said the NBI investigating team has access to the INC headquarters and confirmed Eduarte’s statement that the team was not able to enter the Manalo premises.
“Dalawang anggulo ang tinitingnan ng team – the alleged abductions of 10 INC ministers although most of them are unnamed,” de Lima said adding that they are tracing the 10 unnamed ministers.
The second angle, de Lima said, is if Angel Manalo and his family are detained or not.
De Lima said they also have affidavits of witnesses but refused to give more details.
“As soon as I have the next report, then probably I can share the results,” she added.
As the NBI was ordered to dig deeper into the case, the four INC ministers, who are based in the INC headquarters in Diliman, Quezon City, denied Wednesday that three of them and a relative were kidnapped and tortured allegedly on orders of top leaders of the sect.
The denial came amid reports that 11 INC ministers had been abducted, as the expulsion of the mother and siblings of INC head Eduardo Manalo, and allegations of massive corruption in the sect, abuse of power by some leaders and high living of some ministers came to light.
In an interview at the INC headquarters, ministers Arnel A. Tumanan, Juliusar “Jojo” R. Nemis and Nolan Quiroz Olarte on Tuesday said that they decided to come forward to belie reports that they had been abducted.
Also present in the interview was Joven D. Sepillo Jr., a son of Joven Sepillo Sr., who was among the ministers mentioned as missing and allegedly ordered abducted and tortured by the INC.
Not present in the interview was Lowell “Boyet” Menorca II who was among those alleged to have been missing, but was traced to a police station in Dasmariñas, Cavite province. He was detained at the police station for allegedly threatening two workers with a hand grenade.
Menorca and his wife were reportedly abducted by armed INC members in Bulan, Sorsogon province, on July 17.
“We were not abducted and tortured anytime, anywhere. I strongly deny what had been published and uploaded to social media about my supposed abduction and torture,” Tumanan said.
Tumanan, an instructor at the Evangelical College of the INC, said he was at the Balintawak chapel when he was shown his picture on the Internet as among those supposedly taken by armed men for opposing INC orders.
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