QC cops ready raps over Manalo siblings’ ‘armory’
The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) is set to file charges for illegal possession of firearms against expelled Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) members Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo, his wife Jenny, his sister Lolita “Lottie” Manalo Hemedez, and 23 others who were rounded up during a raid on a controversial INC compound on Thursday.
Frustrated murder and direct assault charges will also be filed against Jonathan Ledesma, another resident in the compound, who allegedly shot and wounded two officers during the raid.
The Manalos and the others remained in detention at Camp Karingal, the QCPD headquarters, on Friday. Sources said they were being held in a room at the District Public Safety Battalion (DPSB) building and that their wallets and other personal belongings had been seized for inspection.
Though he was briefly allowed to approach supporters following his arrest, Angel, the younger brother of INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo, has yet to issue a statement. His adviser, lawyer Trixie Angeles, told the Inquirer that she was not yet authorized to speak on the matter.
On Thursday morning, the police entered the INC-owned compound at No. 36 Tandang Sora Avenue, Barangay New Era, with a search warrant issued by Quezon City Judge Angelene Quimpo-Sale based on eyewitness accounts that the occupants were keeping an armory.
The property became the subject of a court dispute between the INC leadership and the Manalo siblings, who were expelled from the religious group in July 2015 after posting a YouTube video asking church members for help because their lives were in danger.
The QCPD said several high-powered firearms were discovered in the property, including a shotgun, an M16 rifle, a rifle grenade and over a hundred rounds of ammunition. The guns were found in the attic and under a spiral staircase inside the Manalo residence, it added.
Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, QCPD director, said Angel Manalo and the others who were brought in for questioning failed to show any license for the firearms.
With the verification process still under way, Eleazar said charges for violation of Republic Act No. 10951, or the Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunitions, may be filed against a total of 26 persons, 10 of them women.
The QCPD on Thursday said 32 people from the compound were brought to Camp Karingal for questioning after the raid. Among them were three minors, and three domestic helpers and nonresidents, who were not included in the charges being prepared.
A report to Eleazar said PO2 Henry Hular and PO3 Joemarie Oandasan (not PO2 Henry Escular and PO3 Joner Adasan, as earlier reported) of the QCPD-Special Reaction Unit were shot by Ledesma, who allegedly wielded an M16 rifle, when they entered the premises.
Oandasan sustained a gunshot wound in the leg while Hular was hit in the shoulder and the stomach. Hular’s liver, intestines and kidney sustained severe damage, Eleazar said.
Both police officers remained at St. Luke’s Medical Center, with Hular in critical condition.
Eleazar said the Manalos and the others would remain in the camp until “charges are filed or when their commitment and release orders are issued.”
They may post bail depending on the decision of the prosecutor, he added.
As of Friday night, Manalo’s supporters were still gathered outside the gate leading to the DPSB building. They started flocking to the site shortly after the Manalos were brought to the camp in a white bus Thursday afternoon.
They begged the police to allow them to bring food and water to the Manalos, who were allegedly made to starve for six days inside the compound by the guards posted by the INC.
But their pleas later turned into fits of rage when they found out that only INC members were allegedly allowed to approach the detainees.
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