A QUEZON City court has declared former Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) minister Angelo Manalo and his sister Lottie Hemedez in default because they failed to submit their answer to the complaint filed against them by the religious group on time.
The Regional Trial Court Branch 222 granted the INC’s request that Manalo, who had been expelled, be declared in default.
The court said that it “took respondents 46 days before they filed their answer.” Under the rules of court, respondents have 15 days from receipt of summons to file their answer.
Because of the court’s ruling, Manalo and the other respondents lost their right to participate in the proceedings on the petition for injunction filed against them by the INC.
On Wednesday, the court ordered the inspection of the compound in Quezon City occupied by Manalo and Hemedez.
INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said the ocular inspection proved the falsity of allegations that leaders of the religious group detained Manalo and Lottie.
Zabala stressed that it was the INC that asked the court to hold an ocular inspection at the INC-owned compound.
“We wanted the court to see for itself that we are in no way restricting the movements of Manalo and Hemedez, and that they are free to come and go as they please,” he explained.
“We are glad that we were able to show the authorities that the claims of the expelled members are absurd and false,” he added.
Judge Edgar Dalmacio Santos directed court sheriff Neri Loy to “note the number and location of ingress and egress points” in the compound and procedures implemented.
The court ordered the sheriff to submit a written report within seven days from the conclusion of the ocular inspection.
Zabala said they also requested the court to compel Manalo and Hemedez to provide a list of the persons inside the compound, but the two have yet to comply with the court directive.
“The house being occupied by Manalo and Hemedez is owned by the Church. Having been expelled from the Church, Manalo and Hemedez no longer have the authority to stay in the property,” the minister explained.
“As custodian of the Church, the INC leadership has both the legal authority and the moral responsibility to ensure that Church-owned properties are not being used for illegal activities and for purposes contrary to the teachings of the Church,” he added.
According to Zabala, this was why the INC found it necessary to look into reports that armed men were being allowed inside the compound by Manalo and Hemedez.
In October, several ex-marines tried to go inside the INC compound led by Capt. Nicanor Faeldon but were stopped by security guards.
“This is a genuine cause for concern. They are occupying a property very close to the Central Office and they have these unauthorized and suspicious persons with them. One was brought out a few weeks ago—and we were all surprised to find out he was dead. The circumstances to that death remain unexplained,” he said.