Lowell Menorca II ‘expecting more’ arrest warrants for cases filed by INC
MANILA, Philippines — Lowell Menorca II is “expecting more” arrest warrants to come his way after another set of policemen served on Thursday, a second warrant issued by a different court in Mindanao for libel.
“I’m expecting more,” Menorca said while being booked for the second time at the Ermita police station, where he has been detained since Wednesday morning.
Menorca was completing the documents needed to post the P10,000 bail, when the second warrant was served by elements of Criminal Investigation and Detective Group from the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame at 10:45 a.m.
Judge Wenida Papandayan of the Regional Trial Court branch 10 in Marawi City was the signatory judge for the second warrant. While Judge Alberto Quinto of the Regional Trial Court Branch 21 in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte, was the signatory in the first warrant.
Papandayan got Menorca’s name correct, while Quinto did not as the warrant wrote Menorca III.
Menorca said the INC would not stop until “until they have placed me where they want to place me.”
Menorca is seeking a lifetime protection against the sect after its leaders allegedly ordered his kidnapping and detention in 2015 over suspicions that he was going against INC.
Menorca was on his way to Court of Appeals to attend a hearing on the lifetime protection request he filed against INC when the Pandacan police, under Supt. Edilberto Leonardo, arrested him. Leonardo is a member of INC.
The sect, through spokesperson Edwil Zabala, has denied involvement in Wednesday’s arrest..
“I was not expecting a resistance,” said Leonardo in a separate interview. “I thought [Menorca] would be professional.”
Leonardo added that religion had nothing to do with the arrest, and that the operation was valid and based on warrant.
Leonardo said the lawyer for the complainants gave him a copy of the warrants last Tuesday but “I don’t remember his name.” The lawyer, he added, was “a friend of [his] friend.”
Leonardo said he made a “verbal coordination” with a policeman surnamed “Roble” from Ermita police station for the operation, but he couldn’t remember the officer’s first name. He added that written coordination “was not necessary.”
Leonardo said they didn’t verify if the name of the subject was correct. He only checked whether the document was valid, and relied on the photo provided to him.
“I saw the original copy. But the name should be verified by courts not the police. Policemen do not verify the names in arrest warrants,” he said..”
Menorca’s lawyer, Milagros Isabel Cristobal, disagreed. She said it’s the policemen’s “lookout” to ensure that the name in the warrant and the person they were going to arrest were the same.
“Are there more?” Cristobal asked as she and Menorca learned of this second case.
The series of arrest of warrants for libel she said should “worry” not only Menorca but journalists as well.
“Imagine, if someone files libel cases against you all over the Philippines, you would have to go to all those courts, no matter how far, just to attend the hearings,” Cristobal said, adding her group Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag) have been pushing for the decriminalization of libel. SFM
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