MANILA, Philippines - Eduardo Manalo, the executive minister of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), expelled yesterday his mother and brother from the religious organization after they made a public appeal for help, claiming harassment and kidnapping of some ministers.
INC general evangelist Bienvenido Santiago yesterday announced that the leadership has decided to expel Manalo’s brother, Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo, and their mother Christina “Tenny” Manalo “for creating divisions in the church.”
The announcement was made after a 1:54-minute video was uploaded on video-sharing site YouTube last Wednesday night.
The video, titled “Bro. EGM’s family – Call for Help,” showed Angel calling on his brethren to help them as their lives are in danger.
“Bro. EGM” refers to Eraño G. Manalo, the late INC executive minister who died in 2009. He was the father of Angel and Eduardo.
“My brethren in the Church of Christ, I am calling on you because our lives are in danger. We hope you could help us,” Angel said in Filipino.
He then played back an audio recording, supposedly of his mother Tenny, widow of the INC leader.
“I am appealing to our brethren in the church to help us because there is a threat to our very lives. Please help my children, Angel and Lottie, and their companions. Let us also help the ministers who were taken and until now have not yet been found. Let us show mercy to them and their families,” the woman’s voice said in Filipino.
She was apparently referring to her daughter Lolita Manalo Hemedez, who was also reportedly expelled from the INC.
There were reports that several other INC members, including ministers, have also been expelled for supporting Angel and Tenny.
Tenny said she hopes to talk to her son Eduardo, the current INC executive minister.
Santiago denied reports that Angel and Tenny are in danger.
“What Angel Manalo and his mother said in calling for partners of Iglesia to help them allegedly their lives are in danger, plus allegations that ministers have been taken, insinuating that Iglesia is involved, is not true,” Santiago said in Filipino.
He added that they were celebrating their 101st anniversary on Monday, and have experienced many trials.
He said that they are now leaning on the words of God and on what is written in the bible through their executive minister Eduardo Manalo.
He said they think the YouTube post was intended to get sympathy in order to get what they want, which is control of Iglesia, implying that the video was part of a possible power grab in the sect.
He said that INC is not a family corporation, but a religion that follows the rules and words of God that are written in the bible.
He said Eduardo Manalo, the current head, will not allow anyone to disrupt Iglesia.
He said that the video was released to sow disunity, and they have no choice but to enforce the rules and regulations of INC on all members of the church.
Several supporters of the expelled INC members gathered yesterday afternoon outside a house at No. 36 Tandang Sora Ave., Quezon City where Angel and his mother Tenny were reportedly staying.
The house is the residence of the Manalo matriarch.
The supporters said that Angel and Tenny have not left the house since June.
A sign was also posted on one of the windows, asking, “Where are the missing ministers?”
There were reports that at least 10 INC ministers were being held against their will.
Police, however, have yet to confirm the reported abductions.
During the briefing, Santiago denied the allegations made by Angel and Tenny in the video, saying it was just an attempt to get support and sympathy from members to get what they want.
“(They want to) interfere in the administration of the Church,” Santiago said in Filipino.
A source also confirmed to The STAR that there is an ongoing power struggle within the leadership of the church, which will celebrate its 101st founding anniversary on Monday.
The source said details of the goings-on in the upper echelons of the highly secretive but politically influential organization remain sketchy, saying a possible split is a “tall order” but not impossible.
Eduardo took over the top post after his father Eraño died in 2009. INC was established by the current executive minister’s grandfather Felix Manalo in 1914.
Meanwhile, Santiago denied the claims of abduction of several ministers who are not supportive of the current leadership.
Despite this, reports said yesterday that an unidentified man has flashed signs from the window of a building owned by the religious group in Tandang Sora, Quezon City.
Images released by Rapplershowed that the signs include a call for help as they are being held hostage. Another sign warned of a black vehicle parked in the area where the media are holding a stakeout.
Meanwhile, a blog critical of the current INC leadership has provided supposed details on the abduction of ministers of the religious organization.
The blog, titled “Iglesia ni Cristo – Silent No More” by a certain Antonio Ramirez Ebanglista, has claimed that at least nine ministers, workers or members of the church have been suspected of helping him run the blog.
In a post titled “Tyranny of Injustice,” the blogger claimed that ministers have been abducted by armed men, with some subjected to torture and physical harassment.
“My heart cries out for these innocent co-ministers, workers and brethren who are being treated worse than criminals – tortured, interrogated and held against their will,” claimed the blog.
“They were arrested without warrants, their homes violated, their properties trampled on, gadgets stolen, their families traumatized, their close friends interrogated and watched,” it added.
The writer said the ministers were held in different places, including at Camp Karingal, the headquarters of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).
The QCPD, however, denied the allegations.
An INC member, who requested anonymity, said that Angel and Tenny Manalo have documents showing how the church’s executive minister used their funds to buy luxurious things.
The source said that Eduardo and the members of the Sanggunian are spending the funds for unimportant things like the budget used to build the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan to beat the Guinness World Records of having the biggest arena in the world.
A source said that the present INC administration is very different from the previous management that was simpler.
The current INC leaders and some ministers also stay in luxurious hotels abroad.
The source said that the management is only trying to establish that there was only a “family feud” in the INC, but the truth is their head is spending church funds profligately.
Some expelled members of INC claimed yesterday that a third party is trying to destroy the Manalo family to eventually take control of the funds of the church.
One of them said that INC’s general auditor Glicerio Santos Jr. and some members of the Sanggunian are aggravating the feud among the Manalos in order to take over the finances of the INC and eventually control it.
The source, who has access to the Manalo household, said that one of the ministers has been held hostage for several days now.
The source said that the ministers fear for their lives once they get out of the house.
A minister who was allegedly held hostage told The STAR are okay for now but that they might be raided when night falls.
Roel Rosal, a former INC member, said that they were among those who were expelled along with Tenny and Angel after they learned about the alleged corruption.
Rosal said a Bulacan mayor has allegedly sent a complaint to Eduardo after learning that some ministers in the province were allegedly extorting money from him in exchange for their votes during the two previous elections.
Rosal, who described the mayor as “poor and simple,” said the ministers were paid on installment, with P100,000 as the biggest amount paid.
He said aside from the mayor, a “drunkard barangay captain” in Parañaque won in the previous election after paying thousands to the ministers.
The mayor allegedly filed a complaint with Eduardo, but his letter was barred by the alleged corrupt ministers so they were expelled.
The Rosal family was among those who have been expelled by the INC.
Roel said they fear for their lives as they have been receiving threats since June.
Isaias Samson, one of the ministers allegedly abducted, said he has been under “house arrest” since Thursday last week.
In a press conference, Samson said he only wanted to have a change in the present management of the INC, especially on how the church treats its ministers.
“There is corruption and they are changing some things that violate the Church’s rules,” he added.
He said that the ones who should be expelled are the unfaithful ministers “who are dictating on the present leader of the INC and not Angel and his mother Tenny.”
Newly appointed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ricardo Marquez was dragged yesterday into the controversy in the INC.
The Ebangelista blog said, “How swiftly the wheels of injustice moved, in this case, only a day after the appointment of a new PNP chief in the person of Ricardo Marquez, whom the INC has lobbied hard for.”
But Marquez maintained he did not ask anyone to lobby for his appointment as PNP chief.
“I’m not aware of any group that lobbied for me as I never asked any,” Marquez told The STAR.
He also denied the PNP is in any way involved in harassment or illegal activities perpetuated by some groups related to the squabble in the INC. – With Robertson Ramirez, Cecille Suerte Felipe
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