Lawyers for the brother of a minister of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ) on Wednesday filed before the Supreme Court (SC) a petition for a writ of habeas corpus against leaders of the politically influential religious sect.
The petition for the writs of amparo and habeas corpus was filed by Anthony Menorca, brother of INC minister Lowell Menorca; and Jungki Otsuka, twin sister of Lowell’s wife,
Named respondents in the petition were INC Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo, and members of the INC Executive Council Radel Cortez, Rolando Esguerra and Bienvenido Santiago.
A writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission.
Anthony, who is now under the Justice department’s Witness Protection Program, has claimed his brother and his family were being held against their will by the INC.
He also alleged that he could not contact Lowell, who was arrested in Cavite last July 17 for allegedly threatening commuters with a grenade.
Lowell was later released after complainants signed affidavits of desistance.
He later went public and denied that he had been abducted.
In a nine-page complaint, the petitioners asked the SC to order the respondents to bring with them before the court the living bodies of Lowell, his wife Jinky, daughter Yurie and househelp Abbegail.
They also alleged that their family members and househelp were in the custody of the respondents.
The petitioners moreover alleged that Lowell was abducted by unidentified armed men while he was walking to his pastoral house in Bulan, Sorsogon, last July and his wife was compelled to be placed under the custody of the INC after she was threatened on the phone by Esguerra that she would no longer see Lowell if she would not appear at the INC Central Office on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
They also claimed that the INC was behind the abduction of Menorca as well as his family’s allegedly illegal detention.
The petitioners said the INC leadership believed that Lowell was also Antonio Ebangelista, the blogger who wrote about an alleged controversy in the INC.
They expressed fears that for as long as Lowell and his family remain in the custody of the INC, their safety is in danger.
If ever the respondents deny that the Menorca family is in their custody, the petitioners asked the SC to order the inspection of the INC Central Compound where the victims were believed to have been brought.
They asked the tribunal to order the submission before it of relevant documents, including the electronic surveillance reports of ACTIV, the Internet technology department of INC, and direct the respondents neither to get near nor contact the Menorca family.