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WHAT WENT BEFORE: The Iglesia crisis

/ 02:00 AM October 26, 2015
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.

THE CRISIS in Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) came to public attention on July 22, after a video posted on the Internet showed Cristina “Tenny” Manalo, widow of former INC executive minister Eraño Manalo, and her son Angel calling for help and claiming that their lives were in danger. They have since been expelled from INC.

The next day, expelled minister Isaias Samson Jr. surfaced in Manila and detailed his weeklong ordeal at the hands of certain members of the INC advisory council.

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According to Samson, he and his family had escaped after being placed under house arrest in his own residence. His detention began after the council accused him of writing damning blogs against the sect under the name Antonio Ebangelista.

Samson confirmed reports that he knew of at least 10 other ministers being held in different locations: several in Quezon City and one minister, Lowell “Boyet” Menorca II, in the Dasmariñas City jail.

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On the same day, Danica Rosales (an alias) said the unrest had been festering, but INC members who wanted to air grievances feared for their lives and hesitated to speak out. It was only after Tenny and Angel’s video clip came out that concerned members called the media.

INC head Eduardo Manalo was reportedly behind the expulsion of his own mother, brothers, sister and several ministers from different parts of the country. Eduardo, the INC founder’s grandson and the third in the line of succession, took over as INC leader after his father Eraño died in 2009.

Bienvenido Santiago, INC general evangelist, denied the allegations of abduction and illegal detention during a press conference.

On July 24, Menorca was reported to be in police custody in Dasmariñas. The police report said he was arrested on July 17 after threatening two workers with a hand grenade. He, however, was earlier reported being abducted from an INC church in Sorsogon.

Menorca was later released and ended up at the INC compound in Quezon City, later to be joined by his wife and family.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, meanwhile, ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to verify the reported abduction of INC ministers.

On July 28, four INC ministers based in the INC headquarters denied they were kidnapped.

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The following day, Menorca denied he had been abducted while being interviewed by the INC spokesperson on Net 25.

On Aug. 1, the Department of Justice (DOJ) took under its witness protection program Menorca’s younger brother.

On Aug. 2, Manalo addressed members in an INC church in Makati and his speech was beamed worldwide. He said he was willing to sacrifice his life to save the church.

On Aug. 27, INC started a protest over what it called undue attention by the DOJ to an illegal detention case against INC council members.

On Aug. 31, an INC announcement ending the protest came after Malacañang and INC officials reportedly reached some kind of understanding.

Malacañang confirmed reports of the meeting but declined to disclose the results of the talks.

On Oct. 21, relatives of Menorca asked the Supreme Court to compel INC to surface him and family members, saying they were “being held against their own will.”

On Oct. 23, the Supreme Court granted the Menorca relatives’ petition for it to issue writs of amparo (protection) and habeas corpus (to produce a detained person in court), releasing the resolution just hours after the family regained its freedom.

The high court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for proceedings on Nov. 3, ordering respondents INC executive minister Manalo and members of the INC council, including Radel Cortez, Santiago and Rolando Esguerra, to bring the Menorcas to the court. Inquirer Research

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Sources: Inquirer archives

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TAGS: Angel Manalo, Cristina “Tenny” Manalo, Eraño Manalo, Iglesia ni Cristo, Iglesia Ni Cristo crisis, Isaias Samson Jr., Nation, News
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