INC minister 'held captive' speaks out

from reports by Ces Orena Drilon and Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2015 12:41 AM | Updated as of Jul 24 2015 06:31 PM

MANILA - An Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) minister allegedly held captive inside his home surfaced Thursday.

Isaias Samson, Jr. said he was able to escape from the armed men guarding his house.

Samson, the former editor-in-chief of the INC's official publication, said the religious group's leaders were accusing him of writing a blog that revealed corruption practices and other irregularities inside the church.

He was then suspended as minister, removed from the publication, and allegedly detained in his compound, near the INC's central office, with his family members.

Samson said he escaped early Thursday after he was given the chance to attend religious service.

He is now mulling charges against the INC.

He said he wants to talk to Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo to resolve the issue.

EXPELLED

The same day, the INC announced the excommunication of prominent members for allegedly spreading falsehoods against the church.

Those excommunicated include members of the Manalo family, which has held the reins of the church since it was established 100 years ago.

In a video uploaded on YouTube, two members of the Manalo family are seen making impassioned appeals for help.

Angel Manalo is a son of former Executive Minister Erano Manalo.

Tenny Manalo is the widow of Erano and mother of Angel and Eduardo, who is currently executive minister of the INC.

She claimed that some INC ministers have been abducted and are still missing.

In a press conference Thursday, INC general evangelist Bienvenido Santiago said they were expelling Tenny and Angel from the church.

Santiago denied the Manalos are in danger. He added that no INC minister was abducted.

He did not address the cause of the expulsion, but information gathered by ABS-CBN News to an alleged family feud within the Manalo family.

The conflict is said to have been caused by disagreements in the management of the church and its finances.

Santiago, however, denied this.

The expulsion of Angel and Tenny means they can no longer attend worship services of the church.

It's also a big deal within a flock that prides itself on close ties among its members.

The expulsion of the Manalo matriarch and son comes days before the INC celebrates the 101st year of its founding.

Aside from Angel and Tenny, two others were also expelled. They have yet to be identified.

FAMILY FEUD?

According to sources, Eduardo Manalo is feuding with his sibling and mother over the way the INC is being run.

The argument intensified after some supporters of Angel and Tenny spoke out about allegations of corruption against Eduardo and other leaders of the church.

Eduardo was elected to his post, replacing his father Erano who died in 2009.

Erano was the top minister of the INC for 44 years.

He and his wife Tenny have 6 children: Eduardo, Angel, Marc, Lolita, Erlinda, and Liberty.

Ka Erdy is a son of the so-called "Sugo ng Iglesia" -- Felix Manalo, founder of the INC.

'HELD HOSTAGE'

Several Facebook accounts have posted a call urging followers of the INC to go to the Manalos' home in Tandang Sora, Quezon City.

Past noon Thursday, one sign appeared --- "Help, we're held hostage."

But the person who flashed the sign was nowhere to be found.

Aside from the mysterious sign, one car was found full of firearms.

But the car's interiors were shielded by tinted windows.

ABS-CBN News approached the guardhouse where the hostage sign appeared.

But the sign did not appear again.

Several members of the INC gathered near the Manalos' home, but most refused to face the camera.

Only Shirley Rosal, who was a member of the church for 47 years, was brave enough to speak to ABS-CBN News.

She said she came to offer support and hold a vigil for the family of Angel and Tenny.

Shirley and her husband Roel, a former minister, were expelled from the INC last June after they questioned the group's leadership.

She claimed that a minister tried to extort thousands of pesos from local government officials of Bulacan and Paranaque.

There are also allegations on blogs and Facebook accounts pf corruption and kidnappings of church ministers. - with reports from Ryan Chua and Doland Castro, ABS-CBN News; ANC