THE charges slapped against some officials of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) spark bigotry against members of the religious group that has not been seen before in the country, human rights advocate and constitutional law expert Harry Roque said.
He said the allegations hurled against INC officials should not lead “to the oppression of the church and its members.”
Roque, the first nominee of the Kabayan party-list, said that he was alarmed at how “unproven cases have sparked bigotry against INC members that reflects religious intolerance that had hitherto been virtually nonexistent among our countrymen.”
“Some INC members have called this bigotry and it’s hard not to agree with them given the comments of some netizens online. Many forget that the accused officials are Filipino citizens and are entitled to the same rights you and I enjoy, including the presumption of innocence,” he said. “Their being part of a religious minority does not mean they deserve less in law; on the contrary, because they’re a minority the more they deserve its full protection.”
“Justice should be served. However, we should not be quick to condemn the church and its flock based on some TV interviews. What is tragic here is that allegations of wrongdoing are now damaging an institution that is part of Philippine history and culture,” Roque added.
He said the INC is a “homegrown Filipino church” that has attracted millions, including non-Filipinos, into its fold all over the world.
“Wherever it goes, it spreads not only its religious teachings but our language and our culture as well,” Roque said.
He noted that the INC also promotes “good morality and civic values among its faithful—something the country badly needs now.”
INC officials are facing serious illegal detention charges at the Department of Justice. Former minister Isaias Samson, Jr. had claimed that he and his family were harassed and detained. Another former minister, Lowell Menorca 2nd, also claimed that he and his family were abducted and detained at the INC compound in Quezon City.
On Thursday, disbarment charges were filed before the Supreme Court against Trixie Angeles, Menorca’s counsel.
In a five page complaint, Roselie Yanson, mother of Menorca’s househelp, Abegail Yanson, accused Angeles of violating her oath as a lawyer and the rules of ethics under the Code of Professional Responsibility.