Ex-INC minister's lawyer slapped with disbarment rap

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 05 2015 06:37 PM

MANILA - A disbarment complaint was filed with the Supreme Court (SC) against Atty. Trixie Angeles, lawyer of expelled Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) member Lowell Menorca and his wife, Jinky.

Roselie Yanson, mother of the Menorca couple's househelp, Abegail, filed the complaint alleging that Angeles "committed gross misconduct and has violated her oath as a lawyer," with her actuations and conduct "falling short of the high standard of moral and professional character required of lawyers."

Yanson claimed that "the Menorcas are detaining Abegail against her will for the purpose of using her testimony against INC."

"It is also very clear that Atty. Trixie Angeles helped and aided the Menorcas in preventing the complainant from being with her daughter," the complaint stated.

Yanson said Angeles prevented her from seeing and hugging Abegail, whom she last saw in July, during the November 3, 2015 hearing at the Court of Appeals (CA) on Menorca's petition for habeas corpus and amparo against INC Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo and several members of the sect's Sanggunian.

"During the hearing, complainant saw with her very own eyes her daughter, Abegail, after months of not seeing her. It was a very fleeting moment for a mother who has been separated from her daughter. However, that fleeting moment was cut short because the complainant saw her daughter enter the session hall with the Menorcas, with obvious signs of intense fear seen on her (Abegail's) face. Abegail was likewise seen as being tightly guarded by uniformed guards," the complaint read.

Yanson further said she was able to "at least hug her daughter when their group passed by the area where the complainant and her family were seating," during the break, but Angeles interfered.

"Complainant tearfully asked: 'Anak, payakap naman. Matagal ka na naming hindi nakikita. Nag-aalala na kami sa iyo.' Complainant was able to force herself to get near Abegail and hugged her. At this instance, Atty. Trixie Angeles, with the Menorcas and the guards, forcibly pulled the complainant away from Abegail and harshly shoved her away from the rest of the group.

"Complainant was pleading to the Menorcas, Atty. Trixie Angeles, and the guards to allow her to just hug her daughter, but a commotion has already ensued because they would not allow us and they were pushing us away," the complaint read.

Yanson stressed that Angeles told a different story of the incident before magistrates of the CA during the resumption of the hearing.

READ: Ex-Iglesia minister, wife face illegal detention case

For her part, Angeles said only Abegail can shed light on the whole incident.

"It's best that Abegail respond to this as she is the alleged victim. I'm fairly sure she will do so soon enough," Angeles said, in a text message to reporters.

Speaking in open court before the CA, Angeles said a policewoman from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) tried to "grab" Abegail, and called the incident an act of "harassment."

The complaint against Angeles will be tackled by the SC Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC).