Expelled INC minister: ‘I was warned I’ll be next after Menorca’
MANILA, Philippines — He might be next.
An expelled minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) has expressed concern over his safety and that of his family in the wake of the sudden arrest of former church worker Lowell Menorca II, saying both
of them have become the subjects of the church’s alleged witch hunt to find those behind online posts baring purported corruption within the powerful religious sect.
Isaias Samson Jr., the first expelled minister to surface last year with allegations of wrongdoing inside the two-million strong church, has gone deeper into hiding following Menorca’s arrest Wednesday while on his way to the Court of Appeals (CA) just before he was supposed to testify on his plea for court protection against the INC.
“I am being more careful now,” Samson told the Philippine Daily Inquirer when reached by phone.
“I am very much concered about my security. In fact to tell you the truth, after [Menorca’s arrest], some members called me with inside information that I’ll be the next one to be arrested,” he said.
Samson feared that, like in Menorca’s case, authorities might use an arrest warrant issued based on a case not known to him.
“I’ve been trying to think what could be the reason [for my arrest]. The only libel case against me was filed (by the INC) at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office. As far as I know, it has not been resolved
yet. Unless they do the same thing to me what they did to Menorca,” he said.
Samson said concerned friends have advised him to “be very careful.”
“Knowing their (church leaders) kind of people, nothing is impossible,” the former minister said, alleging that the harassment has not ceased for him and his family.
“The truth is, we are in hiding. Hopefully, they won’t succeed if ever they plan to do anything to me. I hope they just follow what is written in the Bible: submit to the law,” he said.
Samson said it was clear that the arrest aimed to stop Menorca’s supposed testimony, where he was expected to detail the alleged detention of his family at the church’s main compound.
The pending CA proceedings aim to determine whether Menorca, his wife Jinky, and daughter Yurie Keiko should be granted their plea for amparo (protection).
“To tell you the truth, I was not surprised with what they did. I was just surprised that they did it outside. They said they already knew where Menorca was staying. Why didn’t they serve the warrant there?,” Samson said.
“Why was it timed with his scheduled hearing at the CA? So, apparently, their real intention was to stop him from testifying,” he said.
Samson said INC leaders might leverage the church’s political influence to sway those in power, especially this election season.
The INC commands a sought-after bloc vote for politicians, and its endorsement could make or break an election bid for candidates.
“They want to prove and show that they are above the law [and influence] the people who are supposed to uphold it because of their clout. Especially now that it’s election time, they will use that,” said the former minister.
“Politicians now will allow themselves to be used because they want the Iglesia vote,” he said.
Samson, his wife and son have been in hiding since July last year after escaping their alleged weeklong detention at the INC Central Compound in Quezon City, on suspicion that he was behind a blog publishing subversive articles against the church.
The former editor in chief of the church’s official publication Pasugo (God’s Message) faced the media after his family’s escape and tagged military and police officers in the abduction of at least 10 other ministers and church workers, including Menorca.
Menorca had been taken in Sorsogon on the same month, allegedly on orders of INC leaders, and then held with his family at the INC Central Compound for three months.
Samson filed charges of serious illegal detention, harassment, threats and coercion against members of the INC’s powerful Sanggunian (governing body) after his family’s escape.
But the Department of Justice dismissed the charges in November, citing lack of evidence to establish probable cause. The accused INC leaders did not answer any of the accusations nor appear during the preliminary investigation of the case.
“But I just decided not to appeal it. My being a minister is still in me, and I felt that if man cannot punish them, then it will be God who will punish them,” said Samson. SFM
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