SC asked to order Iglesia ni Cristo to produce ex-minister Lowell Menorca


Lowell Menorca and his family are allegedly being held against their will after he became critical of the governing body of the religious organization

MANILA, Philippines – The relatives of expelled Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) minister Lowell Menorca have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order the leaders of the religious group to produce the minister and his family before the court.

In a petition, Jungko Otsuka and Anthony Menorca asked the High Tribunal to issue writs of amparo and habeas corpus against INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo, and church officials Radel Cortez, Bienvenido Santiago, and Rolando Esguerra.

The petition was filed by the minister's brother, Anthony, and his sister-in-law, Jungko Otsuka.

A writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security has been violated or threatened. A writ of habeas corpus is a legal action sought on behalf of a person who has been unlawfully detained.

The petitioners claimed that Lowell, his wife Jinky, their daughter Yurie, and househelp Abbegail Yanson were being held against their will by members of the Sanggunian, the INC's top administrative body.

“It is manifest that Lowell, Jinky and Yurie Keiko Menorca, as well as their house help Abbegail Yanson, have clearly been subjected to the INC's unjustified, unlawful and inhumane restriction of their liberty,” the petitioners said.

They said Jungko was able to personally witness the "horribly stressful condition" that the family was experiencing, with INC leaders allegedly barring them from wandering around or leaving their house to buy groceries.

Petitioners also claimed that Lowell had begged the INC to release his family, but was denied.

In July, Lowell was identified as one of several INC ministers who were allegedly abducted because he was critical of the INC leadership.

He was arrested in Dasmariñas for allegedly threatening two construction workers with a hand grenade.

According to a blog post by a certain "Antonio Ebanghelista," Menorca was allegedly taken away by members of the Sanggunian while he was officiating a worship service in Sorsogon.