De Lima: Samson’s suit vs 6 INC execs to go through due process
The complaint of illegal detention and harassment filed by an expelled minister of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) “will go through the regular process,” according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who commented for the first time Wednesday on the controversial case.
De Lima, who was the target of a four-day protest rally by the politically influential religious group, said in a text message to media that the regular process for complaints means “it will be assigned to a prosecutor or panel of prosecutors for preliminary investigation.”
The INC leadership had called for De Lima’s resignation, saying she was giving the case filed by Isaias Samson Jr. against members of the INC’s Sanggunian or highest administrative body “extraordinary attention”—a charge De Lima denied.
Case not yet assigned
The head of the Department of Justice’s National Prosecution Service, Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, said the complaint, which was filed on Aug. 25, had not yet been assigned to a prosecutor for preliminary investigation.
Samson’s lawyer, Trixie Cruz-Angeles, said her client remained hopeful the DOJ would take on the complaint.
“We have faith in the system. If we have been compromised, we will know soon enough,”
Samson, together with his wife and son, accused six members of the Sanggunian of illegal detention, harassment, threats and coercion after Samson was suspected of being the mysterious blogger who exposed alleged anomalies and internal disputes within the INC.
Samson claimed he and his family were prevented from leaving their house for about a week by the Sanggunian and INC security personnel. The family was able to escape on July 23, Samson recounted in his complaint, by pretending to go to a worship service.
Named respondents in the complaint were Sanggunian members Glicerio Santos Jr., Radel Cortez, Bienvenido Santiago Sr., Mathusalem Pareja, Rolando Esguerra, Eraño Codera, Rodelio Cabrerra and Maximo Bularan.
The DOJ National Prosecution Service Manual provides that once a complaint is assigned to an investigating prosecutor, he or she has 10 days to either dismiss it or issue the respondent a subpoena, attaching to it a copy of the complaint together with the affidavits of witnesses and other supporting documents.
The INC ended its protest actions, which had created traffic jams along Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare, after talking with Palace officials late Sunday night.
The INC, which claims almost 2 million members, is wooed by many politicians who hope to get the endorsement of its leaders.—Jerome Aning
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