INC church members accused of kidnapping, murder in Philippines - The Fifth Estate
It’s a controversial church with millions of followers around the world known as the Iglesia Ni Cristo. Thousands of Canadians belong to congregations here. INC church members in the Philippines are accused of financial irregularities, kidnapping and even the murder of a Canadian man. The church denies the allegations.
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About the fifth estate : For four decades The Fifth Estate has been Canada's premier investigative documentary program. Hosts Bob McKeown, Habiba Nosheen, Gillian Findlay and Mark Kelley continue a tradition of provocative and fearless journalism. the fifth estate brings in-depth investigations that matter to Canadians – delivering a dazzling parade of political leaders, controversial characters and ordinary people whose lives were touched by triumph or tragedy.
As promised, here comes the BIG ONE! The twist of fate, a dream come true, for the present day wolves in sheep’s clothing to become famous worldwide and another Guinness World Record contender among the many shame they have brought upon the church for the past 9 years of EVM’s “dynamic leadership”.
But for us, the belittled and oppressed, it is simply an answer to our unceasing prayer.
It’s a controversial church with millions of followers around the world known as the Iglesia Ni Cristo. Thousands of Canadians belong to congregations here. The INC, as it’s known, is headquartered in the Philippines, where church members are accused of financial irregularities, kidnapping and even the murder of a Canadian man. The church denies the allegations. The Fifth Estate uncovers new details about that murder has an exclusive interview with his widow.
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THE ADORATION of EVM
Ministers lining up to kiss EVM's hand in adoration and veneration of him and he allows and enjoys it!
Aug. 5, 2018
Golden One Arena
House OKs Iglesia ni Cristo's telecom franchise extension
Posted at Aug 26 2018 12:12 PM | Updated as of Aug 26 2018 02:12 PM
MANILA - The House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to extend the franchise of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) to install and operate private telecommunications services for another 25 years..
The bill principally authored by San Jose Del Monte Rep. Florida Robes secured the nod of all 224 House members present during the voting. It has been transmitted to the Senate for action, the House said in a statement released Sunday.
The INC, which disseminates bi-weekly preachings nationwide, needs a private telecommunications network to expand its flock, Robes said in the same statement.
"Immediate accessibility to pastoral guidance and counselling on a regular basis is a must for such an organization conscious about direct implementation of religious instructions to its locale officers and members," he said.
Under the bill, INC shall have the right to construct, establish, install, maintain, lease, purchase, and operate the corresponding transmitting and receiving stations, satellites, lines, systems, networks, international gateways, local exchanges, and platforms.
The term telecommunications shall include electronic communications.
The INC shall seek clearance from the public works department and concerned local governments for its telecom conduits.
The National Telecommunications Commission, meanwhile, shall have the authority to regulate the construction and operations of the sect's telecom system, the bill said.
The INC shall also submit to Congress an annual report on its compliance with the franchise.
"2016 TELECOM ACCUSATIONS"
Kaanak ng isa pang nawawala sa QC, lumutang
Lumutang ang kaanak ng isa pang nawawalang lalaki na dinampot din umano ng mga tauhan ng Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon City.
Ito ay matapos maiulat ang pagkawala ng 21 anyos na si Arnold Jansen Agustin mula pa noong Biyernes matapos umanong hulihin ng mga tanod at dating kagawad ng barangay.
Kuwento ni Evely Zabala, isang grupo rin ng mga lalaki ang dumakip sa nawawala niyang kapatid na si Ervin sa bahagi ng Litex, alas-nuwebe ng gabi noong Pebrero.
"Lumapit daw po sa kanila, mga barangay po... Hindi daw po nagsalita, basta dinampot lang 'yong kapatid ko," ani Zabala.
Agad daw pumunta sa barangay hall ang mga kaanak ni Ervin, 26 anyos, para hanapin ito pero wala roon ang lalaki.
"Wala daw po sila noong oras na iyon na operasyon na ganoon," ani Zabala.
Anim na buwan na ang nakalipas mula nang mawala si Ervin at maidulog sa pulisya ang insidente kaya hindi umano maiwasan nina Zabala na mag-isip na may masama nang nangyari rito.
-- Ulat ni Ernie Manio, ABS-CBN News
Stroke victim who fled Philippines church granted asylum in Canada
The Immigration and Refugee board finds 74 year old 'a very easy target' of the Iglesia Ni Cristo church
Eric Rankin · CBC News · Posted: Jul 17, 2018 4:00 AM PT | Last Updated: July 17
An elderly and ailing woman who fled the Philippines has been granted refugee status in Canada — the Immigration and Refugee Board ruling she is a "person in need of protection" from her former church.
The IRB panel found Fredisminda Robosa Menorca, 74, faces "a risk to her life or … [a risk] of cruel and unusual treatment and punishment" from the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) or Church of Christ.
"The claimant is afraid that if she returns to the Philippines she will be persecuted and mistreated by the church administration and their members, especially fanatical religious followers," noted the board decision.
Fredisminda Menorca is the mother of Lowell Menorca, 41, a former unordained minister-turned opponent of the INC's leadership.
INC has 'motivation and capacity to harm' refugee
The panel found the church has "the motivation and the capacity to harm her as a way of controlling or punishing her son."
Lowell Menorca has alleged members of the church abducted him, attempted to kill him and threatened the life of his young daughter when he lived in the Philippines.
He fled to Canada in 2016 and was granted refugee status last year.
"I'm really relieved and happy," he tearfully told CBC News after emerging from his mother's successful refugee hearing in Vancouver.
"I'm just thankful I'm here. I'm thankful that my mother is here."
A slightly redacted copy of the IRB decision was released to the CBC by Lowell Menorca and Independently verified.
Stroke victim 'a very easy target': IRB
Fredisminda Menorca was unavailable to comment on the IRB decision.
After arriving in Canada, she suffered a debilitating stroke that affected her speech and left her partially paralyzed and bedridden.
She couldn't attend her own refugee hearing, instead providing her testimony through a designated representative appointed by the IRB.
Given her condition, the IRB notes Fredisminda Menorca would be especially vulnerable if sent back to the Philippines.
"As someone who is immobile and completely and utterly dependent on others for her daily life, the claimant is, simply put, a very easy target," wrote the panel.
'INC is a cult-like church': Fredisminda Menorca
Fredisminda Menorca alleges the "INC is a cult-like church"— something the Iglesia Ni Cristo has denied.
On its website, the organization preaches it's "the one true church" and only its members will be saved "in these last days."
The INC is believed to be the third largest religious group in the Philippines after Catholicism and Islam, although it does not release membership numbers.
The church has spread worldwide— listing 39 "places of worship" in Canada on its website, including 11 in Alberta and 10 each in Ontario and British Columbia.
'We don't care': INC minister
The INC did not respond to repeated requests for official reaction to the decision, but Paquito Ibañez, a Vancouver-based minister with the church, told CBC News, "We don't know why they decided and we don't care."
Vancouver-based lawyer Roger McConchie, retained by the INC after Lowell Menorca's successful refugee application last year, refused comment on Fredisminda Menorca's case.
'Agent of harm ... motivated by a personal vendetta': IRB
The immigration panel says Fredisminda Menorca's "agent of harm is motivated by a personal vendetta."
In its report, the IRB notes that troubles began for her family in 2009, after a change in church leadership sparked internal dissent.
Lowell Menorca, whose late father was once responsible for the political affairs of the church, began to question the direction of the INC, according to the IRB findings.
Evidence presented at his immigration hearing last year indicated the church suspected he was an anonymous blogger who was accusing INC leaders, known as "the Church Administration," of overspending and corruption — and alleging a cult of personality had developed around the new leader, Eduardo V. Manalo.
Menorca says in 2015 he was kidnapped by church officials, held in an INC compound for three months along with his young family and mother, then saddled with over 40 lawsuits for criminal libel.
When a photo was found on the windshield of his vehicle with a red "X" through the face of his daughter, he put his family into hiding in Asia — and flew to Canada to apply for refugee status.
'Police...are controlled by the church': Fredisminda Menorca
In granting protection, first to Menorca and now his mother, the IRB notes the church dissidents would find little or no protection, if returned to the Philippines.
"(Fredisminda Menorca) alleges that police authorities, including high-ranking officers, are controlled by the church," the immigration panel wrote.
In Lowell Menorca's case, the IRB similarly found "[the INC's] power and influence extends to an ability to utilize [police] to target the claimant," in a country where "convictions for extra-judicial killings … are rare."
'Another step' to safety: Lowell Menorca
Lowell Menorca says his mother's successful refugee application is "another step" towards getting other INC dissidents to safety.
His wife and two children remain in Asia, unable to join him, until he's granted permanent residency and can bring them to Canada.
"Canada proved that ... [it] is a safe haven for a lot of refugees," said Menorca. "There's still hope for justice. There's still hope for people who stand up for what is right."
"I hope this will serve as a message to the church administration."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric Rankin is an award-winning CBC reporter. His honours include the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Local Reportage, the 2017 and 2015 RTDNA awards for Best In-depth/Investigative Reporting, and the 2009 Jack Webster award for Best News Reporting.
PNP solves Bote murder, hitmen paid P25,000
A dispute over a construction project at the Minalungao Eco-Tourism Park in Nueva Ecija sparked the killing of General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote. Police investigators said the alleged mastermind is a manager of a construction firm in the province who reportedly paid the gunmen P25,000 for the hit.
Chief Supt. Amado Corpus, director of the Central Luzon regional police, said the two gunmen who were arrested in Camarines Sur last week named the alleged mastermind.
Bote was shot in the driveway of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Cabanatuan City last July 3 as he left the premises aboard a vehicle.
“They (gunmen) were paid P25,000 for it,” said Corpus.
Corpus said the alleged mastermind is an acquaintance of one of the arrested gunman, Florencio Suarez whom he contacted to liquidate Bote.
“Aside from the judicial confession, the confirmatory forensics on the firearms seized from Suarez and (Robertlyn) Gumatay during their arrest proved to be used in the killing of Mayor Bote, and therefore made them credible,” said Corpus.
The vehicle which Suarez was driving when they were arrested were monitored through the CCTVs and tailed until the arrest was made last week.
Based on the link diagram presented in yesterday’s press briefing at Camp Crame, a total of eight suspects are believed to have participated in the killing.
One of them was a lookout who asked NIA guards permission to use the comfort room prior to the Bote slay and was seen leading the gunmen towards the escape route.
There were eight suspects, two of them are unidentified, including a man possibly higher than the alleged mastermind, said national police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde.
“We are not discounting the possibility that someone higher could have ordered and financed the killing,” he added.
Director Roel Obusan, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said the alleged mastermind and Bote who are both into construction business reportedly had a falling out over projects in Nueva Ecija.
The last straw reportedly had to do with the P96 million Minalungao Tourism Convergence Park, an eco-tourism project located in General Tinio town where Bote is the incumbent mayor. The firms of Bote and the alleged mastermind reportedly bidded for the project but the national government awarded the project to the alleged mastermind’s firm.
What pushed the alleged mastermind to eliminated Bote, Corpus said, “according to the suspects, ginigipit daw ni Mayor Bote yung kumpanya (of the alleged mastermind). These claims are already in the judicial confession of the suspects,” said Corpus.
Insiders said a local chief executive could delay the implementation of the project by making it hard for the contractor to get the necessary permits.
Delays in the implementation of projects would mean trouble for the construction firm since it may be fined for the delay and would even result in the cancellation of the project.
The investigation disclosed that one of the getaway cars used in the Bote ambush entered the compound of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) chapel in Cabanataun City. The same car Suarez was driving when he was nabbed in Camarines Sur.
Obusan said the INC played a key role in the solution of Bote’s murder.
Obusan said local INC leaders provided the identities of some of the suspects in the course of the probe.
“They (INC) are of big help in our investigation. Although most of the suspects are members, they said and assured us that they will not tolerate such act,” said Obusan.
Albayalde said they received surrender feelers from the alleged mastermind.
A case for murder will be filed today against the assailants.
Canadian man murdered in the Philippines, wife injured in attack
Police chief in Batangas City says shooting could have been a contract killing over a property dispute
Eric Rankin · CBC · Posted: Jul 14, 2018 4:24 AM PT | Last Updated: July 14
A Canadian man living in the Philippines has been murdered on the eve of his planned relocation to B.C., over what police say appears to have been a property dispute.
CBC News has confirmed that Barry Gammon, 66, formerly of Montreal, was gunned down outside his home near Batangas City, southwest of Manila, on June 24.
Local police say his widow, Luzviminda Gammon, a Philippine national, was injured when she tried to fight off the shooter — one of two men who stormed their property. Their nine-year-old son hid inside the home and was uninjured.
Police say the murder may have been a targeted hit — and they believe they know who was responsible.
"The suspect might have been commissioned … as someone to kill for a contract that had been made on Barry Gammon," said Supt. Sancho Celedio, Batangas City chief of police.
Reached by phone by the CBC, Celedio said, "Apparently Barry Gammon had altercations with certain personalities in his block regarding a possible dispute about right of ways."
He said a suspect with a criminal record has been identified.
"We've already filed charges against the suspect. And we're now waiting for the warrant of the arrest to be issued," Celedio said.
"Until [then], we would rather that we are silent about [his] identity, so that precludes any attempt for him to go out of the area, or it will be a challenge for us."
Batangas police say around 7 p.m. on the evening of the attack, two men rode up to the gate of the Gammon home on a motorbike.
Barry Gammon went to investigate, and one man pulled a gun and opened fire.
As Gammon staggered back into his yard, the gunman followed and continued to shoot.
According to Philippine media reports, Gammon was struck multiple times and was rushed to a local hospital, but was dead upon arrival.
Mass brawl erupts in Australia, Philippines basketball game
(CNN)A mass brawl erupted in a basketball match between Australia and the Philippines Monday resulting in 13 players being ejected from the court.
Video shows punches, kicks and objects being thrown after a melee broke out with just over four minutes left in the third quarter of the 2019 World Cup qualifying tie.
The Philippines was left with just two eligible players before the match was halted at the end of the third quarter. The final score listed as 89-53 to Australia on the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) website.
Deadly church banned
March 7, 2017
PRISCILLA CHIPULU & STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has suspended operations of Church of Christ following a stampede that killed eight people, including a nine-month-old baby, in Lusaka yesterday as a church organisation doled out free food hampers.
The accident also left 28 people injured.
Inspector-General of Police Kakoma Kanganja and his officers from the divisional headquarters had to stop the programme to avert a bigger disaster at the OYDC.
Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili said in an interview that the church failed to submit operating documents even after being asked to do so on Thursday last week.
She said the church will remain suspended until investigations are concluded by relevant authorities.
Reverend Sumaili said the government was not aware of the outreach programme the Church of Christ had engaged in at the OYDC yesterday.
â€œI asked them last week on Thursday before the event could take place to bring the certificate of registration, their constitution and their profile but they didnâ€™t bring. We have deaths involved. Therefore, we decided to suspend its operations until investigations are completed,â€ she said.
What was to be a joyful event turned tragic as thousands of Lusaka residents, including those who had not been registered as beneficiaries, surged forward to get their own share of the windfall.
The dead and the injured were among over 35,000 people who had gathered as early as 04:00 hours to receive the free food hampers from the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ).
Police spokesperson Esther Katongo said an investigation had been launched into the matter.
However, before the stampede resulted in more deaths, Mr Kanganja and his officers stormed the premises to halt the programme.
Eight dead and 28 injured in stampede for free church food in Zambia
March 6, 2017 13:33 GMT
At least eight people have died and 28 others have been wounded in a stampede at an event where free food was distributed by a church group in Zambia's capital, Lusaka, according to local police.
The victims were among 35,000 people who had congregated at the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka on 5 March to attend a prayer event. Event organiser Lesedi Seven, which is part of the US based faith organisation Church of Christ, was due to start giving free food.
Police spokesperson, Esther Mwaata Katongo, was quoted by online publication Mwebantu as saying that among the dead were six females, one male adult and one male juvenile.
Five people died on the spot while the others succumbed to wounds as they were being driven to the hospital, police said.
Separation of church, state even with Manalo appointment Malacañang
Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo was picked as President Rodrigo Duterte's special envoy because of his 'established network' among overseas Filipinos, says Malacañang
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday, February 15, defended the appointment of Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo to a government post, saying this is not a violation of the principle of separation of church and state.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement in a Palace news briefing on Thursday, in response to questions about the appointment of the religious leader as President Rodrigo Duterte's Special Envoy for Overseas Filipino Concerns.
On whether there is a violation of the principle of separation of church and state, he said, "None, because there are two elements to separation of church and state: the freedom to practice your religion and certainty that government will not endorse any religion."
He also denied that Manalo's appointment was "political accommodation" owing to the political influence of the INC, a religious denomination known to vote as a bloc during elections. (READ: How potent is the INC's vote delivery system?)
FAST FACTS: Who is Eduardo Manalo, special envoy for OFW concerns?
MANILA, Philippines – Eduardo Manalo, who is the Iglesia ni Cristo’s (INC) Executive Minister, donned a new hat as President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, February 13, appointed the religious leader as his new Special Envoy for Overseas Filipino Concerns.
According to appointment papers released by Malacañang on Wednesday, February 14, Manalo will serve a year-long term from January 30, 2018 to January 29, 2019.
The INC, known for its supposed bloc-voting system, endorsed the candidacy of Duterte during the 2016 presidential elections. (READ: How potent is the INC’s vote delivery system?)
Who is Eduardo Manalo and how was he appointed to the position?
Duterte: I’ll sell my soul to the devil so OFWs can live comfortably in PH
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that he would sell his soul “to the devil” just to give repatriating overseas Filipino workers (OFW) a comfortable life in the Philippines.
“You come home and I will sell my soul to the devil to look for money so that you can come home and live comfortably here,” Duterte said during the oath-taking of newly-appointed government officials in Malacañang.
In his more than 30-minute speech, Duterte vented out his anger over the abuse of some OFWs in Kuwait.
Philippines-based church has 'means and motivation'
to kill refugee if returned: IRB
The Immigration and Refugee Board has found a Philippines-based church with chapters across Canada "is motivated by a vendetta" against a dissident who sought refugee status in B.C., and has "both the means and the motivation to seriously harm or kill" him, should he return to the Philippines.
In accepting Lowell Menorca's claim for refugee status, an IRB panel has ruled he's "a person in need of protection from a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment and a risk to his life."
CBC News has a lightly redacted copy of the panel's decision from Menorca and has confirmed its authenticity with the IRB.
The long road to safety for ex-INC refugee claimants
MANILA, Philippines – For years, homegrown church Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) has been steadily amassing followers and building up influence in political circles.
But in 2015, just a year after it celebrated its 100th anniversary, the church found itself facing its worst crisis in recent history.
A feud within the founding family split the church between those who sided with the current executive minister, Eduardo Manalo, and those who call themselves the “defenders” of the faith. The INC leader’s own relatives, brother Angel Manalo and sister Lottie Manalo Hemedez, claimed harassment from top church leaders.
Expelled church ministers surfaced with allegations of kidnappings and corruption within the church. Several of the church’s most vocal critics reported being threatened in a bid to silence them. (READ: Revolt in the Iglesia ni Cristo)
Chris Brown Claims Lawyer Tried to Extort Him
LOS ANGELES (CN) — Singer-songwriter Chris Brown claims in a lawsuit that a lawyer used armed men to try to extort him for $300,000 in the Philippines, threatening to have him jailed on phony charges and delaying his exit flight.
In a Friday lawsuit in Superior Court, Brown claims that Jose Victor Los Banos Giongco, of greater Los Angeles, working with a Filipino attorney, tried “to extort Chris Brown by unlawfully threatening to have him arrested and sent to jail, and demanding $300,000 payment in exchange for safe passage home.”
Brown says “a group of armed personnel prevented him from leaving” his hotel in Manila on July 22, 2015. He had performed in Manila on July 21, to make up for a New Year’s Eve concert he had missed in 2014, “due to a misplaced passport,” Brown says in his complaint for civil extortion.
The concert he missed was to be in the Philippines Arena, owned by the (MALIGAYA) Magilaya Corporation, in Ciudad de Victoria. To make it up, he says, he and Magilaya agreed to the substitute date, where he performed.
Stopped by the armed men, Brown says, “a man identifying himself as counsel for Magilaya Corp. (‘Magilaya Counsel’)… acting in his individual capacity, contacted Brown’s attorney and threatened to have the singer jailed for fraud for missing the New Year’s Eve concert.
“Magilaya Counsel then informed plaintiff’s counsel that he could ‘make it all go away’ if plaintiff paid Magilaya Counsel and his associated — defendant Jose Victor Los Banos Biongco —$300,000,” according to the 7-page complaint filed by L.A. attorney Mark Geragos.