MANILA - An expelled member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) has been granted refugee status in Canada on claims that his life is in danger in the Philippines, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported Thursday.
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has approved expelled INC member Lowell Menorca II's claim for refugee status after ruling that he is "a person in need of protection from a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment and a risk to his life," the CBC report said.
It said the Canadian board noted that the INC "is motivated by a vendetta" against the 40-year-old Menorca, an unordained INC minister.
"I cried and I cried, and thanked God that finally this was the vindication I was praying for," Menorca said, as quoted in the CBC report.
Menorca made headlines in 2015 after he was allegedly abducted after being suspected of being behind online exposes of alleged corruption in the INC. The church leadership, however, has dismissed Menorca's claims.
He later tagged the INC leadership as perpetrators of his alleged abduction in Sorsogon and filed charges against the church.
The INC hit back and filed several countersuits, including libel complaints.
Menorca now hopes to bring his family to Canada and to be granted permanent residency.
He originally sought refuge for himself, his then-pregnant wife Jinky, daughter Yuri Keiko, sister-in-law Jungko Otsuka, brother Anthony Menorca and his wife Shayne, and their house help Abegail Yanson.
"I hope there is a way that I can get them here as soon as possible, now that I have been granted protected-person status here in Canada. And I will still continue to find ways so I can get them here as soon as possible," he was quoted by the CBC.
ABS-CBN News sought comment from the INC but has yet to get a response as of this posting.