Menorca free, faces 3rd case
Lowell Menorca II, the expelled minister of Iglesia ni Cristo sect who was arrested on libel charges under highly irregular circumstances last Wednesday, was released from jail on Friday, and promptly threatened to file countercharges against those he deemed responsible for the “harassment.”
READ: Menorca released on bail
“I am appealing to those who filed the libel case to drop the charges. These cases wouldn’t prosper without the guidance of Iglesia. I’m asking them to drop the cases or else I will counter-sue,” he said before leaving the Ermita police station.
Menorca said the information that the Society of Communicators and Networks International (SCAN) had used to file various libel cases against him “was out of context.”
He said SCAN has alleged that he (Menorca) had accused SCAN members of being used by INC for illegal activities.
“That’s not how I said it,” Menorca reiterated, adding that he had “proof” that would show how the interview where he was supposed to have made the accusation was spliced and twisted.
More libel cases
Manila Judge Silverio Castillo ordered Menorca’s release after the latter’s brother Anthony, together with lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group, paid the bail of P20,000, or P10,000 for each libel charge.
Meanwhile, another subpoena for yet another libel case in Cavite City was served on Menorca at 10:45 a.m. on Friday by lawyer Arnel Hanabajal of the Cavite provincial prosecutor’s office.
The subpoena required Menorca to appear before the Cavite office on March 4, 2016.
The latest complainant was 26-year-old Irilyn Candelaria Yuvienco of Naic, Cavite. She filed the case on Nov. 8, 2015, for a libel that was allegedly committed on Oct. 28, 2015. She listed Jerson Mangubat and Rodney Ray Catalasan as her witnesses.
Before stepping out of the Ermita police station at 3.40 p.m. on Friday, Menorca said in jest: “Wait, wait, are there more arrest warrants?” He looked out the door as if to check whether the road was clear, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
“I just want to make sure it’s already safe to go out because they might order my arrest again,” he said.
Immediately after stepping out of the police station, Menorca looked up and said: “Fresh air.”
He said he wanted to see his wife. Then he issued a tough warning that he would file countercharges against those “harassing” him through the legal system.
He said his two-day imprisonment made him appreciate freedom more and cemented his resolve to reveal “the truth” against certain INC officials and members.
“I am silent no more,” he said.
He said he reflected and prayed while he was in jail. He even thought of just keeping silent about the issue, but then decided that he should “go for it.”
Menorca, his wife Jinky Otsuka and their 2-year-old daughter were accosted in a Manila street on Wednesday morning by policemen in plainclothes who said they were implementing a warrant of arrest issued by a Lanao del Norte court.
The Menorcas said they resisted the policemen, who refused to show their badges and give their names. They also declined to show him a copy of the warrant, according to Menorca.
The policemen were later identified as Arnel Santos, Samson Sison and Dennis Ramos, said to be members of a tracker team from the MPD Pandacan station under Supt. Edilberto Leonardo, a member of the INC sect.
Santos, Ramos and Sison have been recommended for awards and commendation by the MPD.
Menorca was on his way to the Court of Appeals for a scheduled cross-examination on his request for lifetime protection against INC when he was arrested.
Menorca had earlier accused the sect of ordering his abduction in Sorsogon province in July 2015. He claimed that he, together with his wife and infant daughter, were detained for three months at the INC Central Office in Diliman, Quezon City.
The Menorcas were rescued last October just as the Surpreme Court ordered INC to produce them in court for proceedings on their plea for amparo (protection). The high court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for hearings.
Asked to comment on Menorca’s claim that INC was behind his legal woes, Edwil Zabala, the INC spokesperson said: “We will not dignify his allegations.”
“Our legal team is eagerly waiting for the resumption of the Court of Appeals hearing. If he has any additional allegations then we will answer these once these are brought to court,” Zabala added.
PNP asked to explain
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday demanded an official explanation from the Philippine National Police about what it said was the use of “excessive force” in the arrest of Menorca on a libel charge.
“There was clearly overreach, and perhaps abuse of authority,” CHR Chair Jose Luis Martin Gascon said.
Gascon said that after watching a video of Menorca’s arrest on the Internet, he deployed a team to monitor and investigate the case.
“We need to go to the bottom of this,” he said.
In a phone interview, the CHR head said the members of the Manila Police District seemed not to be following the protocol in effecting the arrest, noting that Menorca had been scheduled to appear in court when the police officers “pounced on him.”
“What is sad about this is he was on the way to court from a safe house,” Gascon said.
He said it would appear that the police officers’ actions were aimed at preventing Menorca from testifying at the Court of Appeals, where he was seeking lifetime protection from the INC.
Although the CHR has no prosecution powers and “this is a justice concern,” Gascon said the agency can monitor and speak out against any violation of human rights.
Asked if President Aquino should intervene, Gascon said he had faith that the Department of Justice would be able to resolve the case on its own. With reports from DJ Yap and Tina G. Santos
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