Church leader expels mother, siblings after video release
A video uploaded online blew the lid off a brewing feud within an influential family whose grand patriarch founded the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ–the country’s third largest religious denomination.
The controversy erupted just as the congregation was preparing to mark its centenary on Monday.
The video, which was uploaded on YouTube, shows Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo, son of the denomination’s late leader Eraño “Ka Erdy” Manalo, asking the public for help, claiming that their lives are in danger without giving details.
“Nananawagan po kami sa inyo dahil nanganganib po ang aming buhay. Sana’y matulungan niyo po kami [We are asking for your help because our lives are in danger. We’re hoping that you could help us],” he said.
The second part of the video shows a picture of Angel’s mother, Cristina “Tenny” Manalo, as she purportedly makes a similar appeal to help her children–Angel and Lolita “Lottie” Manalo Hemedez.
“Saklolohan ninyo ang aking mga anak, si Angel at Lottie, at ang kanilang mga kasama. Tulungan niyo rin ang mga ministro na dinukot, at hanggang ngayon ay di pa nakikita [Help my children, Angel and Lottie, and their companions. Also help the ministers who were abducted and have remained missing].”
Tenny is the mother of the INC’s current executive minister, Eduardo Manalo.
She also made an impassioned appeal to her son to talk to her.
“At sa aking anak na si Eduardo, sana’y makausap kita [To my son, Eduardo, I hope that we could talk],” Tenny said.
Eduardo succeeded his father, Ka Erdy, after his death in 2009.
Ka Erdy led the church for 46 years.
The INC was founded by Felix Manalo in 1914.
Hours after the video went viral, an official of the INC called a news conference and announced the expulsion of Tenny and her children from the congregation for allegedly sowing disharmony among INC members.
A church circular dated July 23 containing the order to expel the members of the Manalo family and signed by Minister of Gospel Radel Cortez was posted on Facebook later in the day.
Cortez did not elaborate why Tenny and her children were expelled from the INC.
The circular was reportedly read aloud during the INC’s Thursday services.
“Our brother and overall leader, Eduardo Manalo, will not allow anybody to sow discord within the church,” INC General Evangelist Bienvenido Santiago said in a news conference, which the church called before noon Thursday. He spoke in Filipino.
“That’s why although it’s painful on the part of our brother, Eduardo Manalo, he decided to expel those who created the division within the church.”
Aside from Tenny and Angel, also expelled were Marco Eraño Manalo, and Lolita Manalo Hemedez.
The decision was cascaded to the congregation members during Thursday’s church service.
A broadcast journalist who is a member of the INC told The ManilaTimes that there were rumors of a rift within the church but no one would talk about it openly.
Another journalist who is also a member of the church said they knew about the video but refrained from sharing it.
Santiago denied the allegations mentioned in the video.
“Angel Manalo’s statement and that of his mother which came out last night on YouTube where they called on the members of the Iglesia to help them because their lives were allegedly in danger and that there were ministers who were abducted, insinuating that the Iglesia has something to do with it, there’s no truth to that,” he said.
Santiago added that they see the video as an attempt by a faction in the Manalo family to get sympathy from the church members but the real objective is to meddle in the management of the church.
“Everybody should know that the Iglesia is not a family corporation. This is a religion that follows the rules and lessons of God according to the Bible,” he said.
“Brother Eduardo Manalo will not allow the Iglesia to be rattled by anyone. And because of what they did last night, it’s clear that their objective is to create factions within the church. It’s unavoidable that they be sanctioned in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Iglesia as what the chief minister does to all,” Santiago added.
A handful of supporters of Cristina and her children went to the Manalo residence in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, and made a public plea to the INC leadership to have mercy on the Manalos and to the ministers involved in the controversy.
As reporters and photographers crowded the front of the sprawling residence, an unidentified person displayed signs saying, “Tulong. Hostage po kami [Help. We are being hostaged]” and “Revo black LGV-395 kasama po yang nanggigipit sa amin. Puro armado po yan. Ingat kayong lahat [That black Revo with plate number LGV-395, they’re among those who are oppressing us. They’re all armed. Take care].”
No one responded as reporters tried ask questions
A GMA News online report quoted a web log by a certain Antonio Ebangelista, who claimed that the INC leadership has expelled nine ministers from Sorsogon, Cebu and Bulacan. The author also alleged that some are being tortured in police camps and their families prevented from speaking about their expulsion from the religious group.
The ministers who were allegedly being held hostage include a certain Nolan Olarte, Boyet Menorca” and Joven Sepilllo.
Some ministers who were supposedly expelled include a certain Arnel Tumanan and Jerson Samson.
The lawyer of an alleged missing INC minister has denied that his client was abducted,
According to Allen Blair Boy, who claims he was with the INC Legal Aid, the minister, Lowell Rabasa Menorca 2nd, was not abducted but was arrested by the police in Dasmariñas, Cavite, for allegedly getting involved in a melee and for possessing a grenade.
The lawyer said his client was a native of Bulan, Sorsogon, and is living in Dasmarinas City, Cavite.
Earlier, a text blast purportedly from activist Mae Paner alias Juana Change said, “Urgent!!! Missing INC Minister found. His name s Lowell Memorca. He is to tell all. Please go NOW to Dasmarinas CAVITE city jail beside city hall before they take him out.”
WITH FRANCIS EARL CUETO, JACQUELINE BOUVIER ARIAS AND ROGELIO LIMPIN