MANILA - The brother of Iglesia ni Cristo minister Lowell Menorca II believes the minister was forced to deny that he was abducted by the Iglesia because the religious sect is detaining his family.
Anthony Menorca, brother of Ka Lowell, said he saw his brother's interview on the INC-run Net 25.
"Napanuod ko po yun at lahat po yun ay pawang kasinungalingan po dahil po ang kapatid ko ay hawak po nila sa leeg," he said in an ABS-CBN interview.
Anthony said he was able to talk to his brother while he was incarcerated in Dasmarinas on an illegal possession of firearms and explosives complaint.
He said his brother told him that the INC was accusing him of putting up the blog "Iglesia ni Cristo Silent No More", which exposed the alleged corruption of the INC leadership. The blog is allegedly written by a certain Antonio Ramirez Ebangelista.
Anthony said the Iglesia ni Cristo is currently detaining Menorca's wife, child, their mother and other relatives against their will at the Central Condominium in Quezon City.
He also said he has been forced to go into hiding due to threats.
"Pwede po kaming iligpit dahil nung may ayaw po nilang lumabas ang katotohanan at babarilin po kami sa ulo," he said.
INC spokesman Edwil Zabala has yet to reply to ABS-CBN requests for comment on the story.
Ka Lowell Menorca II was earlier identified by Joy Yuson, a former administrative coordinator of the TV arm of the INC and a former member of the INC for over 20 years, as one of several INC ministers allegedly abducted by the church for speaking out against INC leadership.
He told radio DZMM Menorca was "abducted" right in the middle of an INC service in Sorsogon.
He also said Menorca's wife and child were also abducted.
Menorca was jailed in Dasmarinas, Cavite last July 17 after allegedly threatening two men with a hand grenade. The Dasmariñas police formally filed a case against him on July 20.
He was freed by police last Sunday, July 26, after the complainant withdrew the charges.
In an exclusive interview on INC-run Net 25, Menorca said he is aware of reports that he was allegedly held hostage and tortured by the Iglesia ni Cristo while his wife and child were also abducted.
"Wala pong katotohanan yun. (Hindi ka hinostage?) Hindi po. (Hindi ka dinukot?) Hindi rin po. (Tino-torture?) Lalong hindi po," he said in an interview with INC spokesman Edwil Zabala.
At one point during the interview, Menorca became emotional as he thanked INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo for helping his family.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami dahil sa kabila ng mga pagkukulang, mga kapintasan ko ay patuloy pa rin po kaming kinakalinga, patuloy pa rin po kaming nililingap kasama ang aming buong sambahayan. Napakabait po ng Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan kaya po hindi po matatapos ang aming taos-pusong pagpapasalamat sa lahat po ng pag-ibig, pagmamalasakit, hindi lamang po para sa aming kapakanan, kundi para sa kapakanan ng Iglesia, para sa kapakanan ng aming kaligtasan. Maraming salamat po, sir," he said.
Asked for his message to those spreading rumors that he had been kidnapped, he said: "Nais ko lang pong sabihin sa kanila na itigil na nila lalo na po yung paggamit sa pangalan ko, sa naging sitwasyon ko para isulong yung nais nila na gawin pa at yun po ay wala namang katotohanan."
"Nandito po ako. Pinatutunayan ko po na ako ay ligtas. Kapiling ko po ang pamilya ko. Buo po ang aming sambahayan at kami po ay nasa ilalim ng pagkupkop, pangangalaga at pag-iingat ng pamamahalang pangkalahatan," he added.