Guards bar media from entering INC compound
A SCUFFLE ensued on Tuesday as Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) guards prevented expelled minister Angel Manalo from allowing members of the media to come inside the disputed Tandang Sora compound in Quezon City.
“You can come in, so you can see what they’re doing,” Angel Manalo, brother of INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo, told reporters who were covering the court-ordered inspection of the property.
The situation became tense when Angel Manalo and his housemaids pushed the guards blocking the pedestrian gate of No. 36 Tandang Sora Avenue.
This reporter was crushed due to the commotion. Moving to a better position, this reporter was pulled by the guards while being coaxed by the other side to go in.
“I will just stand here at the side,” this reporter said. Media members told Angel Manalo that they couldn’t come in because of the petition of the INC asking a Quezon City Regional Trial Court to bar visitors at the two-hectare compound.
“The sheriff stopped them from fencing us off. But they’re violating the law. There is no decision on the case yet. They sneaked up on us from the central compound,” Manalo said.
Construction workers came in from the back entrance to fence off the compound with metal rods, tin roof and barbed wire.
This happened while opposing lawyers were discussing their proposed terms of the inspection, said housemaid Lea Cabillan.
Court sheriff Neri Loy told the men to stop but they resumed after he left, Cabillan said.
INC asked the court in September to prevent siblings Angel Manalo and Lottie Manalo-Hemedez from receiving visitors at the disputed compound.
The injunction case was prompted by a report on unidentified masked men entering the property, the petition said.
The siblings’ counsel, Trixie Cruz-Angeles, earlier said that the church was “isolating the people who are inside.”
Hemedez, through ex-minister Isaias Samson, previously said she would challenge INC’s claim on the property.
In connection with the petition, Judge Edgar Santos of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 222 granted an inspection of the Tandang Sora compound to determine the identities of the occupants and to note the entry points.
Aside from the sheriff, no more than two lawyers from each camp, barangay officials and policemen were allowed to go in. Angeles and Ahmed Paglinawan for the respondents. Wilfredo Santos and Zeromsky Pineda for INC.
Holed up since July
The expelled Manalo siblings have been holed up in the property since Angel Manalo and their mother, Tenny Manalo, came out with a video calling for help in July. Other expelled ministers have come out to accuse the church of corruption and illegal detention.
“They brought this in court so they should follow the court. We haven’t agreed out on anything and now they’re fencing us off. Please take footage of what they’re doing, it’s illegal,” Manalo said.
The inspection was rescheduled because the parties were still negotiating and not because of the commotion, the court sheriff said when he returned.
Last month, Hemedez said that she and her husband, now deceased, owned the two-hectare lot at No. 36 Tandang Sora being claimed by INC.
Speaking to the media on behalf of Hemedez, who was prevented from testifying at a hearing on Nov. 23, Samson questioned the INC ownership of the compound.
Samson cast doubts on the “authenticity” of a deed of sale transferring the property to INC earlier this year.
“Based on documents, we believe No. 36 is owned by sister Lottie Manalo-Hemedez and her deceased husband. You must remember brother Edward Hemedez died way back on April 16, 2013. And then suddenly, there’s a deed of sale he supposedly signed on April 23, 2015,” Samson said.
He wondered how Hemedez’s husband could sign a deed of sale more than two years after his death.
The lawyer for INC, Serafin Cuevas Jr., maintained that the compound was owned by INC.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.