All hearsay, zero evidence, Iglesia says of charges
THE ALLEGATIONS of corruption and anomalies against the Iglesia Ni Cristo and its leaders have turned to be “all hearsay, zero evidence,” the church’s spokesperson, Edwil Zabala, said Sunday.
In a statement, Zabala said the allegations against the INC leaders were part of a “sustained and deliberately planned effort to besmirch our reputation, sow division within the church, and consequently discredit it in the eyes of the public.”
“We continue to pray for the enlightenment of those who attack us. At the same time, we assure the Filipino people and our own membership that we shall be steadfast and determined in defending the church. The truth is on our side,” he said.
Zabala criticized what he described as the “much-publicized but failed attempts” to file criminal charges against the INC leaders, particularly members of the church’s Sanggunian or governing council.
The INC’s “detractors,” he said, “are less concerned with proving their charges in court, as their focus is simply to use the media to sow public distrust and internal discord by making fantastic, baseless allegations anchored on hearsay.”
Zabala said the latest accusations of a former INC minister in the United States, Vincent Florida, were “perfect examples of how statements that would be thrown out in court have become the basis for damaging news reports.”
Florida alleged last week that there were irregularities in the handling of financial contributions in the United States, with INC leaders involved in supposedly smuggling out funds via private planes owned by the INC to banks in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands to avoid the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The IRS said last week that no tax fraud or tax offense cases had been filed against any INC official in any US federal court.
Zabala also said Florida failed to present proof to substantiate his claims about the existence of INC’s private jets and quoted him as saying, “I cannot attest to that, but that’s what I heard.”
He said the church had been vindicated by the Department of Justice’s dismissal for lack of probable cause of the complaints of illegal detention, harassment and coercion filed by ex-minister Isaias Samson Sr. and former member Jose Norlito Fruto.
“It is easy to make up stories of wrongdoing,” Zabala said. “Being able to prove these stories with facts is difficult, and this is something our critics have repeatedly failed to do.”
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