OAKLAND, California — Expelled members of the international Iglesia Ni Cristo church expressed concern over reports that police detained at least 30 persons, including two siblings of the current executive minister, for questioning and further investigation for alleged illegal activities inside the church compound.
Complaints of illegal possession of firearms reportedly will be filed by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) against expelled Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) members Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo, his wife Jennie, his sister, Lolita “Lottie” Manalo Hemedez and 23 others.
All were rounded up March 2 at the Manalo residence inside the INC compound and brought to Camp Karingal. The police raided the residence on the strength of a search warrant for an alleged armory inside the 36 Tandang Sora, Quezo City compound.
The present executive minister of the INC is Eduardo Manalo, the eldest of Eraño “Erdy” Manalo’s children, which includes Lolita “Lottie” Manalo, Erlinda Manalo, Liberty Manalo, Felix Nathaniel “Angel” and Marco Eraño Manalo.
QCPD director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar stated that Manalo and the others failed to show any licenses for ownership of the firearms – including a shotgun, an M16 rifle, a rifle grenade, and over a hundred rounds of ammunition – seized from the Manalo residence. They will reportedly stay at Camp Karingal until charges are filed or commitment and release orders are issued.
Isaias Samson Jr. of Riverside, California, the former editor-in-chief of INC publication Pasugo and the first expelled minister to surface in 2015 with allegations of wrongdoing in the two-million-strong INC, wondered aloud why these were all happening.
“The ejectment (case) they (INC) filed at the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court (instead of the Quezon City) speaks for itself plus all the harassments they employed against them (Ka Angel Manalo and others),” Samson said.
“First, they started demolishing the two bedrooms of the house where Brother Angel and the rest dwell, with no regard for their lives because of the danger that the house would collapse. Then they sent the members of SWAT inside then claimed that they were fired at hitting two policemen who were serving the search warrant. They never showed pictures of the ‘wounded’ policemen who were brought to St. Luke hospital when there are many hospitals nearby,” charged Samson, who claims to have been continually harassed himself while here in the United States.
Samson was suspected of being behind the blog of subversive articles against the church in 2015 for which reason he and his family were allegedly illegally detained for a week.
Samson further claimed that only the crew of INC TV station Net 25 was allowed to enter the property while those rounded up were being brought out.
“Not even Ka Angel’s lawyer, Rene Saguisag, was given access to the compound. In Camp Karingal only the same TV crew was allowed to cover inside not the rest of media. What are they hiding?” wondered Samson.
Expelled INC member Liezl Deocampo who, with husband, Julius, faced harassment charges filed by INC local in Anaheim, strongly believes that “unless a fair and balanced investigation is done, it is already public perception that this is more harassment towards a family who asked for help for the sake of others.”
The charges against the Deocampos were dismissed by Superior Court of Orange County in Fullerton in 2015.
“They have endured very inhumane conditions in that compound and now this! The barangay captain is an INC member as well as most of the police men assigned to this task. Don’t you think people will perceive the investigation as fair? doubted Deocampo. “We don’t even know for sure if those (weapons) are theirs or not. And are we sure that all the guards from the INC all have licensed firearms?”
Former minister Robert Canlas of San Francisco, who chose to step down from his post last April after disagreements with the direction the INC officialdom was allegedly taking, was angry and hurt by what happened to “Ka Angel,” his family and his companions.
“What angered me the most was the hypocrisy of it all. Just several weeks ago the church administration vigorously campaigned to raise money to help the poor in Africa. And so what does the administration do? After preaching love for your fellowmen to raise money for Africa, they quickly turn around and oppress their neighbor. What do you call that? That is what you call hypocrisy,” Canlas shouted.
“They claim to be doing God’s work but use their muscle–influence, power and wealth–to oppress the poor and weak? INC has again used its muscle to persuade media, police and politicians to do their bidding. Why were the lead personnel of this operation to arrest those in (the compound) the minions of INC? No arrest was possible without INC control.”
Control of country?
Canlas even asserted that INC has control of the country as they have people everywhere and that the Commission on Human Rights and even appeals to President Duterte are useless.
“But not only am I angry, I am also hurt. I am hurt because while all of this inhumane act was taking place, there were members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo actually cheering and applauding what the administration was doing against the family of the late Brother Eraño G. Manalo,” Canlas lamented.
From the other side, an active INC member “Jun” of San Jose, California, maintained that expelled INC members and even ministers should no longer expect to be treated as active members.
“If you are expelled from the church then you do not belong and do not deserve to benefit from the church. No property of INC is in the name of any member, everything is under the name of Iglesia Ni Cristo as owner,” Jun adamantly responded to charges of harassment against the Manalo siblings. “They deserve to be kicked out. The property came from our voluntary offerings. It is about time.”