INC officials peddled 'bloc voting' power, claims suspended minister

ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jul 26 2015 12:44 AM | Updated as of Jul 26 2015 08:44 AM

MANILA -- A suspended Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) minister on Saturday revealed a letter which supposedly links several INC ministers to alleged peddling of the religious group's ''bloc voting'' power.

Roel Rosal said a Bulacan mayor had sought explanation on why the influential religious group did not endorse him in the 2010 elections.

The mayor supposedly claimed he had several meetings with INC district ministers and allegedly gave them P200,000 in exchange for INC's support.

''Ilang beses siya na nagbigay pero sa bandang huli ay hindi siya nadala ng Iglesia,'' Rosal told ABS-CBN News.

Since he was a friend of the mayor, Rosal gave the letter to an official of the INC.

The mayor did not get a reply, he said.

There was no response either when Rosal wrote a letter to INC's executive minister himself, Eduardo Manalo.

Rosal was surprised when they were threatened by INC officials and told to stop writing letters to Manalo.

Rosal claimed he was suspended without due process and was asked, in the presence of policemen, to leave his INC-provided housing.

''Tiniwalag na kami at wala na kaming karapatang manirahan sa pabahay ng Iglesia. Kapag hindi raw kami umalis, kakaladkarin kami,'' he said.

Rosal said, he felt compelled to tell his story after INC spokesperson Edwil Zabala claimed the suspended ministers were merely out to destroy the religious group and seize control of its affairs.

Rosal believes the practice of money changing hands for the church's ''bloc votes'' also happens in other provinces.

''Noong panahon ng ka Erdy (late INC executive minister Eraño Manalo), maraming natitiwalag na ministro kapag napatunayan na talagang tumangaap, pero bakit hindi sila makapanindigan doon sa katotohanan? Binabaliktad pa kami at kami pa raw ang nanggugulo sa Iglesia,'' he said.

Rosal urged other ministers to surface and expose alleged anomalies within the INC.

He also hopes that the INC executive minister will soon face the church's members and address the the group's problems.

ABS-CBN News tried to get the side of Zabala but he has yet to respond.

Zabala earlier denied claims of corruption within the INC.

INC IN CRISIS

Cracks in the powerful century-old indigenous Christian group were revealed when relatives of the current INC executive minister themselves called for help and alleged rampant corruption and high-living within the religious group.

Cristina "Tenny" and Felix Nathaniel “Angel”, Eduardo's mother and younger brother, last Thursday said their lives were in danger and that some of the INC's ministers critical of the current INC leadership had been abducted and were being held against their will.

The INC decided to expel Tenny, Angel after their YouTube video made the rounds online.

Angel's siblings, Lolita ''Lottie'' Manalo-Hernandez and Marco Eraño Villanueva Manalo, were also reportedly expelled from the group.

On the same day members of the Manalo family were expelled from INC, messages seeking help were also seen posted from a window of the house of the Manalo family in Tandang Sora.

Angel eventually surfaced early Friday and said he was not being held hostage, and that the handwritten messages flashed on the window were just posted by a child who was ''just kidding."

Angel, nonetheless, insisted that the INC is now suffering from massive corruption. He cited the ''unnecessary'' construction of the US$200 million Philippine Arena in Bulacan as an example. He said the sect's money should be spent for the construction of INC chapels.

The Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation have launched a probe into allegations of kidnapping of at least 9 INC ministers critical of the Sanggunian (Council), composed of the most powerful INC officials closest to Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo, who succeeded his father Eraño after the latter's death in 2009 following a 46-year reign.

'INC MINISTERS LIVING LUXURIOUS LIVES'

Aside from Rosal, former ''Pasugo'' editor-in-chief and second-generation Minister Isaias Samson Jr. also accused several INC officials of corrupt practices.

Samson said he and his family were barred from leaving their home last July 16 and was able to escape July 23.

He also implied in an interview on Thursday that an INC minister, Sorsogon-based Lowell Menorca, was abducted and was detained on trumped-up charges in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

Menorca, through his lawyer who was sent by INC, denied that he was abducted. He also denied he was abducted in a letter filed with the Dasmariñas Police.

While the power struggle in the INC was only revealed this week, a certain Joy Yuson, a former administrative coordinator of the TV arm of the INC, claimed corruption in the INC started after the death of Eraño in 2009.

Yuson alleged that INC's outreach program ''Lingap sa Mamamayan'' is fraught with anomalies, saying INC ministers are now living luxurious lives, a far cry from the simple lifestyle of INC ministers in the past.

INC spokesperson Edwil Zabala dared Yuson to file a case and present his evidence.

He said the church will present more evidence that will debunk Yuson's claims on Monday. - with a report from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News