SC asked to act swiftly on habeas corpus plea of ex-INC minister
MANILA, Philippines — The lawyer representing detained former Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) Minister Lowell Menorca and his family hopes the Supreme Court would act swiftly on their petition, citing how lives are at stake in the case.
Trixie Cruz-Angeles spoke of the urgency for the case to be resolved, with the Menorca family allegedly being held captive at an apartment at the INC Central Compound in Quezon City for more than three months now.
“Of course it’s very urgent. We don’t know what will be done to them. Or the state of their health. It’s been so long,” the lawyer said when reached by phone on Thursday.
In a petition filed Wednesday through Angeles, Menorca’s younger brother Anthony, and Jungko Otsuka, twin sister of the ex-minister’s wife Jinky Menorca, asked the high court to protect their relatives and compel the INC leadership to surface them.
The petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus and writ of amparo said Menorca, his wife, daughter Yurie Keiko and househelp Abbegail Yanson “have clearly been subjected to the INC’s unjustified, unlawful and inhumane restriction of their liberty.”
The younger Menorca has been under witness protection by the state since August, when he was admitted into the program citing threats from INC’s powerful Sanggunian (governing council).
Angeles said Otsuka’s safety has been ensured prior to the filing of the petition.
“Ms. Jungko is secure right now. We were aware that she was risking a lot by filing the petition,” said Angeles.
The plea said the Menorca family has been under house arrest at the INC compound since July, when Menorca was first reported missing in strange circumstances.
He was seized in Sorsogon on July 16 and later turned up in jail in Dasmariñas City for allegedly threatening a group of construction workers with a grenade. His wife, however, witnessed how he was abducted by armed men.
Under the alleged threat of members of the INC’s Sanggunian (governing council), Jinky Menorca ended up being herself detained with her husband, along with her daughter and househelper, at the Quezon City compound.
Menorca’s mother Fredesminda is also now with the family, having no one else to stay with.
The former minister is among several that certain INC leaders believe were behind the public release of damaging articles against the church.
In the same month that Menorca was taken, his fellow expelled minister, Isaias Samson Jr., surfaced and told the media how he and his family were also held under “house arrest” at the Central Compound, and that 10 other ministers had been detained as well. SFM
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