INC says reports point to military involvement in property dispute
MANILA, Philippines — The Iglesia ni Cristo said on Wednesday, it had received reports about leaked documents showing members of the military might have been involved in the property dispute between the Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo and her estranged sister Lolita Manalo-Hemedez who was expelled from the church last year.
INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said he had not yet seen the documents but admitted that the INC had received reports that armed masked men were seen entering the portion of the INC compound in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, where Hemedez and her family lived.
“The presence of these suspicious masked men is one of the reasons we asked Ms. Hemedez and the other expelled members to leave the premises,” Zabala said in a statement.
The supposed documents detail the schedule, movements, and possible scenarios for January 15, the day when Hemedez held a press conference and spoke about the dispute. The documents mention the word “Marines” in possible reference to a security detail and the name of an alleged active member of the Philippine Marines was even listed as the security team leader of the event.
Zabala said that the mobilization of marines, if proven true, only “shows that there is really a systematic, planned, and concerted effort to taint the reputation of the church,” adding, “It’s saddening because this is a legal matter for the courts to decide.”
According to the minister, the church had exercised “maximum tolerance” by allowing Hemedez and her family to stay at the property after their expulsion from the INC.
“The presence of armed men at the compound, however, made the arrangement untenable,” Zabala explained, “given the security risks their presence posed with their proximity to the church’s headquarters.”
The INC has filed a ejectment case against Hemedez, which is currently pending before the QC prosecutor’s office. The INC claiming the lot as church property but Hemedez said the property belonged to her and her late husband. SFM