‘Military should probe soldiers’ role in INC row’

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THE Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) on Thursday prodded the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate reports that some members of the Marine were involved in the dispute between some church officials and some expelled members.

“The reports in the media need to be looked into by the proper authorities, especially since former military personnel have already been seen providing security for Mr. Angel Manalo, Ms. (Lottie) Hemedez and their group,” INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said.

In October last year, Hemedez’s lawyer Trixie Angeles was accompanied by former military men in an attempt to enter the INC compound in Tandang Sora, Quezon City.

Prior to this, Oakwood mutineer and dismissed Army Capt. Nicanor Faeldon also tried to enter the same property.


Faeldon was a former client of Angeles, who represented the Army officer when he was charged for his participation in the Oakwood mutiny in 2003.

Zabala said the assistance provided by Faeldon and other dismissed military personnel in previous instances “lend credence to reports in the media that there are documents that prove that Marines are being used as escorts by these expelled INC members.”

The INC officials expressed fears that the continued use of military personnel by Hemedez and her family may endanger the lives of security personnel the church had hired to safeguard the Tandang Sora property.

“Walang laban ang mga security guards naming sa mga Marines (our security guards are no match to the Marines); what we want to avoid is people getting hurt in the course of doing their jobs. Wag naman umabot sa ganun. (We hope it does not come to that),” Zabala said.

He argued that if the armed guards of Hemedez are active military personnel, then “the AFP should impose administrative sanctions on them as our armed forces should not be used as anyone’s private army,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Manila Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday ordered the release of sacked INC minister Lowell Menorca who was arrested for libel on Wednesday.

Jovencio Senados, chief of the prosecutor’s office, ruled that the charges of resisting arrest, direct assault and obstruction of justice filed against Menorca, his wife Jinky Otsuka, and his bodyguard Felixberto Eslava need “further investigation”

The Menorcas were on their way to the Court of Appeals when they were intercepted by a group of Manila policemen. They refused to go with the policemen who were armed with a warrant of arrest on libel charges filed in Mindanao.

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