Petitions for a writ of amparo and a writ of habeas corpus filed by expelled Iglesia ni Cristo (INC or Chuch of Christ) member Lowell Menorca are in danger of being junked by the Court of Appeals (CA).
This loomed after Menorca admitted in open court that there is no overt and direct threats from church officials to physically harm him and his family.
He made the admission when he was cross-examined before the Court of Appeals Seventh Division for the writ of amparo petition his family filed when he was allegedly held against his will at the compound of the INC’s Central Office in Quezon City.
It was Rogelio Vinluan, lawyer for the respondents, who grilled Menorca.
“But were you threatened to be harmed?” Vinluan asked Menorca, to which Menorca replied, “Direct, verbally no. Implied and indirect, yes.”
The complainant went further by saying, “We were restrained, heavily-guarded, constantly interrogated. But harm [like being threatened with a knife, none]. [But that we had no freedom, that was the threat to us].”
Vinluan contradict Menorca’s allegations that their liberty was restrained because there were, in fact, instances when he was able to shop and go to the Philippine Arena, a huge, modern theater in Bocaue, Bulacan, owned by the INC.
Menorca replied that even though they were allowed to leave the INC Central Office compound during the time when they were in “detention,” they were still heavily guarded.
Several photographs, including one where Menorca and his family were smiling while inside the compound, were presented before the court and shown to Menorca.
He confirmed that it was indeed his family’s photo shot inside the INC compound.
“I admit that we are smiling in this picture while we are restrained and under heavy guard,” Menorca stated.
Another photo presented in the hearing is the one that was shot during the birthday celebration of Menorca’s wife, Jinky, where Menorca was with 21 visitors inside the compound.
Several requests were allegedly made by Menorca’s camp while in the custody of INC, including being allowed to watch cable television and to go to a gym.
Moises Tolentino, also part of INC’s legal team, manifested before the court some of the interviews conducted by the media with Menorca when he was arrested last week.
Tolentino complained of Menorca’s public assertion, which touches on the content of his judicial affidavit and which may affect judicial proceedings of his case.
Trixie Angeles, Menorca’s lawyer, told the Court of Appeals that they will admonish their client regarding his media interviews.
Menorca should have been subjected to cross-examination last week but while on his way to the court, he was arrested in Manila by members of the Manila Police District by virtue of warrants of arrest issued by courts in Marawi City and Lanao del Norte.
The next hearing shall be on February 15, 2016.