INC minister 'not abducted,' says lawyer

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2015 05:22 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2015 09:08 AM

MANILA - At least two people have denied a minister of the influential religious organization Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) was kidnapped.

Lowell Menorca II is currently detained at the Dasmariñas City police station after being charged with grave threat and possession of explosives.

According to reports, he is among several church members critical of the INC leadership who went missing. Text messages circulating on Thursday alleged that he was about to "tell all" after having been found.

Lawyer Allen Blair Boy, who said he was sent by the INC leadership after Menorca sought legal assistance, met and spoke with him for the first time on Thursday.

"Base sa pakikipag-usap ko sa kanya kanina, hindi po totoo 'yon. Hindi totoo na na-abduct siya (Based on my conversation with him a while ago, it's not true. It's not true he was abducted)," Boy told reporters.

Menorca was jailed on July 17 after allegedly threatening two men with a hand grenade. The Dasmariñas police formally filed a case against him on July 20.

It is still unclear why Menorca was carrying a grenade, and Boy said he is just about to prepare his counter-affidavit.

Boy also could not say at this point why Menorca was in Dasmariñas at the time of his alleged crime, when he is a resident of Sorsogon in the Bicol region.

"Malinaw ang facts na pinresent natin. Wala pong abduction na nangyari. May mga complainants na tumawag sa atin at tayo naman, bilang pulis, tungkulin nating mag-respond sa tawag ng tungkulin natin (The facts we presented are clear. No abduction happened. There are complainants who called us, and as policemen have to respond to the call of duty)," said Supt. Joseph Arguelles, Dasmariñas police chief.

Arguelles also said Menorca has been quiet since he was brought to the police station, and said nothing about being abducted.

He said authorities are waiting for the court to determine if there are enough grounds to proceed with Menorca's case.

Journalists were not allowed to interview Menorca and take images of him.