Missing INC minister freed by Cavite police

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 27 2015 09:09 AM | Updated as of Jul 27 2015 05:09 PM

MANILA - An Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) minister, earlier reported to have been kidnapped, was released by the Dasmariñas, Cavite police yesterday.

Lowell Menorca Jr., a volunteer minister of the INC in Sorsogon, was arrested on July 17 after allegedly using a grenade to threaten passengers waiting for a ride along a highway in Cavite, a report on GMA-7 ''Balitanghali'' said.

The report quoted the police as saying the complainant had withdrawn the charges of grave threat and illegal possession of explosives against Menorca.

Menorca was detained at the Dasmariñas City police station for a week.

A blog site, “Iglesia Ni Cristo - Silent No More,” run by a certain Antonio Ramirez Ebangelista claimed last week that nine INC ministers were kidnapped in different provinces and expelled from the church.

Three of them were identified as Boyet Menorca of Sorsogon, Joven Sepillo of Tacloban, and Nolan Olarte of Cebu.

INC general evangelist Bienvenido Santiago said that the accusations against them were not true.

The INC expelled last Thursday Cristina “Tenny” Villanueva Manalo, mother of executive minister Eduardo Manalo; and his brother Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo for allegedly sowing disunity in the organization.

Tenny and Angel appeared in a YouTube video Wednesday night and said that their lives were in danger. Also expelled were the executive minister’s other siblings Marco Eraño and Lolita “Lottie” Manalo Hemedez.

The Manalos appealed for help amid the alleged threats to their lives.

NBI agents went to the Manalo residential compound at 36 Tandang Sora Avenue in Quezon City on Friday but failed to talk to Angel or Tenny.

NBI agents also went to the INC’s central office in Quezon City to coordinate with church leaders.
Probe won’t cover fund misuse

Meanwhile, an NBI probe on controversies hounding the INC will not cover the alleged misuse of church funds, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday.

“In the absence of a proper complaint, there is no basis at this point to look into allegations on corruption or misuse of INC funds,” she said.

De Lima explained that just like the expulsion of Angel, brother of the current INC executive minister, and their mother Tenny, the government considers the corruption claims as “internal” to the church.

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