A brazen show of force
Recent events have made many compare the religious sect Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) with the Mafia.
Both the INC and Mafia have members entrenched in many branches of government and sectors of society.
Needless to say, both are feared by their members—as well as by outsiders—because of their power and influence.
But the difference between the two is that the INC is a home-grown religious organization that professes to preach love, while the Mafia is a criminal gang that engages in mayhem and murder.
Since the Mafia is not operating in the Philippines, let’s leave it alone and let US authorities take care of it.
Let’s talk about the INC, instead.
Although the church leadership has denied it, many are under the impression that it ordered some of its members who are policemen to arrest expelled INC minister Lowell Menorca II to prevent him from testifying against them on alleged irregularities within the church.
Menorca, with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, was on his way to the Court of Appeals to elaborate on his testimony against INC leaders who, he claims, had ordered his abduction last year.
Earlier, Menorca claimed he was abducted by policemen, who were allegedly INC members, from Bulan town in Sorsogon province where he was holding ministry functions for the church.
Menorca alleged that on their way to Manila from Sorsogon, his captors tried to kill him but one of them took pity on him.
He and his family were detained in a Cavite jail and then held against their will at the INC central compound until the Supreme Court ordered his release.
The timing and manner of Menorca’s arrest on Wednesday by INC cops showed a brazen disrespect for the law, and many knew he was on his way to the Court of Appeals.
He was grabbed by persons in casual wear who looked more like hoodlums than cops, in the middle of a busy street in Manila.
The court warrant to arrest Menorca that the captors brought with them was not for a violent crime like murder but for libel.
It was issued by a judge in Lanao del Norte province where Menorca had never set foot.
As the public can easily see, the warrant was frivolous, but no matter because the order to arrest Menorca—an accusation dismissed by its leaders—allegedly came from an organization that everyone in government fears.
Many INC members are well placed in key government posts, especially in the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Prosecution Service, the courts, the Court of Appeals and possibly the Supreme Court.
Insiders in these agencies allege these members owe their lofty positions to their mother church.
It’s not surprising they would vote as one for politicians who have the blessing of the church.
In the first few months of his term, President Noynoy was reportedly annoyed by so many requests coming from the INC for appointments of its members to key positions.
But the newly-appointed President calmed down after a Cabinet member told him that the INC had voted as a bloc for him.
He signed the appointment papers of the INC members, according to my Palace birdie.