Manila, Philippines – Unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s long, heated rivalry in the 2008 US presidential campaign, there are politicians in other countries who choose to take the short cut to political power by wooing the kingmaker. Instead of patiently reaching out to the electorate, these politicians seek the person or group of people who has the capacity to influence the conclusion of a political run, a method that assures the former’s promise of the future in exchange for the latter’s favor.
On a different perspective, however, a kingmaker isn’t a kingmaker for nothing. Take for example Kakuei Tanaka, the most prominent political kingmaker in Japan. He served as Japan’s Prime Minister during 1972-74. But even after his term, he remained dominant and influential. Even though he got involved in political scandals, he was able to choke the Prime Minister at will without holding a position in the cabinet.
Monetary, arms, and politics are common players in a kingmaker scenario. More often than not, these factors entail negative effects to the government. In the Philippines, however, there is another player: religion. And the effect of this kingmaker, as far as records are concerned, is unexpectedly catastrophic. It is a chain of crimes and power – behind mythical numbers yet.
Detailed here by prominent newspapers, the Supreme Court and a television station are random reports of the criminal and related activities of one such religious group, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) or Church of Christ, considered to be the kingmaker in the Philippine political arena. It spans contemporary times but leads back to 1954 where the founder, Felix Manalo, is featured as a rapist. Finally, it ends with Eraño Manalo’s own words about the nature of their mythical membership. Eraño, now in his early 80s, is the son of Felix Manalo.
On February 28, 1989, an angered Iglesia Ni Cristo minister shot two men with a .38 caliber pistol in Baranggay Lamot II, Calauang, Laguna, as reported by Jun Tiosen in newspaper, “Abante.” Calauang Police Station Commander Lt. Romulo Endaya identified the minister as Joseph Dadoy of Ma. Victoria Poultry Farm of that town. The victims Ronaldo Arogancia, 22, and Ricardo Ortiz, 32, both reside in Baranggay Lamot I were drunk during the incident. According to the investigation of Pfc. Milencio Nuñez, Dadoy was having a meeting with his fellow INC members when the victims came around 6:45 p.m. and mocked their religion. Dadoy, after some exchange of words with the two drunk men, was infuriated and shot the victims. Arogancia died while being treated in Laguna Provincial Hospital due to a gunshot at the chest, while Ortiz was shot once at each thigh and was treated in San Pablo Doctor Hospital. The INC minister was arrested and imprisoned in Calauang Municipal Jail.
Three years after the shooting incident, on March 1992, four Iglesia Ni Cristo deacons butchered five students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in the basement at the back of the INC chapel in Sta. Mesa, Manila. What escalated into a cold-blooded murder started only from a heated dispute during a basketball game. The corpses of the victims were later fished out of the murky waters of Pasig River.
According to Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA), in August 28, 2000 Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. rendered judgment on the case “PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JUANITO ABELLA, DIOSDADO GRANADA, BENJAMIN DE GUZMAN, and EDGARDO VALENCIA, accused-appellants,” where the four accused in these cases, who are deacons of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, were declared guilty beyond reasonable doubt on five (5) counts of MURDER. The record states “That on or about March 8, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating together with others whose true names, real identities and present whereabouts are still unknown and helping one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill and with treachery and evident premeditation, attack, assault and use personal violence upon one Marlon Ronquillo y Alepda [(Criminal Case No. 92-104529), one Felix Tamayo y Pascual (Criminal Case No. 92-104530), one Andres Lojero, Jr. y Pascual (Criminal Case No. 92-104531), one Joseph Ronquillo y Alepda [(Criminal Case No. 92-104532), one Erwin Lojero y Pascual (Criminal Case No. 92-104533)] by then and there hitting his head with guns, kicking him, tying his hands, [neck and private organ (additional allegation in Criminal Case No. 92-104531)] and thereafter throwing his body into the river thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his death thereafter.”
Postmortem examinations on the cadavers showed signs of torture. Marlon, Andres, and Joseph had contusions, ligature marks and hematoma; they were helplessly mauled while hands tied at their backs. Marlon had lacerated wounds and was killed due to a gunshot on the head. Andres’ genitals were cut off; Joseph had skull fracture; both died due to “asphyxia by strangulation; hemorrhage, intracranial, traumatic.” On the other hand, Erwin’s body showed abrasions and burns with blunt head injury, while Felix had abrasions on the left cheek and tie impressions on the wrists. The cause of their death was “asphyxia by drowning.”
Murderers to this crime were defended by the Iglesia Ni Cristo camp up to the Supreme Court, a kind of support enjoyed by members of their church, regardless of the overwhelming evidences that prove the accused guilty of the crime. This toleration, along with their undeniably strong influence in the government, has led to encouraging these people to act beyond the limits of justice, as proven time and again by their criminal records. Significant to the execution of the crime also is the place where they had committed the crime. For these INC deacons, there seemed to be none more comfortable a place than their chapel, even for transforming into a killing field. They once taught in their official magazine, Pasugo, published in August 1969, page 17 that “We have to worship Him [God] in the house where His Spirit dwells, like the modern house of worship pictured above.” The modern house of worship mentioned refers to their chapel—now turned killing-field—where the spirit of their god dwells.
On March 5, 1994, two years after the murder of the five college students, “3 Iglesia ‘Vigilantes’ Nabbed for Beheading, Roasting 2 Men!” was headlined in People’s Journal Tonight, written by Ed Serrano and Leo Villan. Photo of the skull of roasted Jorge Sorbeto and the body of beheaded Edgar Loquinario, a security guard in Bahay-Bahayan Restaurant in Antipolo, was provided on front page. The ‘vigilantes’ were reportedly members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo Security Force which included two policemen. One of the arrested INC Security Force members was identified as Antonio Lim, “whose Nissan pickup was said to have been used in the twin slays.” Sorbeto’s charred remains were found a day after he was abducted, while Loquinario’s body was recovered in Rodriguez, formerly Montalban.
The ensuing year, on July 24, 1995, another shooting incident that involved another minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo was reported by Jess Larman in People’s Journal. Police identified the shooter with a .45 caliber pistol as Raul Caragay, an INC minister residing in Baranggay Parang, Bagac, Bataan. The victim, Manuel Payad, 29, a farmer in Baranggay Cabog-Cabog, was shot three times and was declared dead upon arrival at St. Joseph Hospital. The INC minister was arrested under the custody of Balanga Police.
On March 11, 2004, Del Villanueva reported in Tempo, of a “bloody worship” that took place in an Iglesia Ni Cristo chapel in Baranggay Dayang Amaya 2, Tanza, Cavite. A certain Restituto Salvador, 29, was charged with attempted homicide and violation of Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as violation of religious feelings, after stabbing two of his fellow worshippers “in the midst of a religious ceremony inside their church.” The victims were identified by the town’s Police Chief Inspector Audie Madrideo as Feliciano Limonero and Pablo Dumalogdog, 36, both residents of that town. Only Dumalogdog filed formal charges against the stabber before the local court, said Madrideo.
On February 8, 2007, an Iglesia Ni Cristo pastor together with his wife and son were found dead in another INC chapel in Ternate, Cavite, as reported by Marlon Ramos in Inquirer.net. Calabarzon chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Senior Supt. Mark Edson Belarma said the three dead bodies were found inside the pastor’s room in the chapel at 1 p.m. by an INC member. The victims were identified as Darius Api, 34, his wife Antery, 36, and their six-year old son Kurt Russel. The three were shot with a .45 caliber pistol, and might have been dead before 4 a.m. that day. Belarma would not give details of the crime, and another police officer in Cavite also declined to give information, saying that the Iglesia Ni Cristo “asked the police to refrain from giving information to the media.” Chief Supt. Nicasio Radovan, Calabarzon police director and an INC member, reportedly cannot be contacted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer at that time to inquire about the incident.
On April 27, 2008, a former Iglesia Ni Cristo minister who transferred to Ang Dating Daan (ADD) group was shot dead by two men riding tandem on a motorcycle past 10 a.m., Sunday, in San Simon, Pampanga. This was reported in UNTV 37. The victim was identified as Marcos Mataro, 39, main host of the UNTV program D’ X-Man, a show formatted to expose the false doctrines of INC. Mataro was killed with a 9mm caliber pistol, shot in the forehead, right eye, neck, and chest. Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) of Camp Olivas, upon its initial investigation, said the victim was waiting for a bus bound to Manila when two young men in the late twenties shot the victim six times that killed him instantly. The gunmen left the motorcycle when it suddenly malfunctioned and rode a bus instead, a Baliwag Transit going to San Fernando, Pampanga, Central Luzon.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) created Task Force Mataro to speed up solving the case. Recent development led police to two suspects: Nickson Icao, owner of the motorcycle used by the gunmen with plate number DW4524; and Felizardo Lumagham, or “Ka Zaldy”, an INC deacon who reportedly borrowed the motorcycle. In a report in Abante Online last May 29, Task Force head police Senior Supt. Gil Menesses said that instead of claiming the motorcycle, Icao hid himself, indicating a strong connection of the suspect to Mataro’s murder.
San Simon Chief of Police, Francisco Cortez, believed that the victim’s transferring of religion is relevant to the crime. Cortez said, “There’s a possibility that there were threats the victim was receiving while he was still alive.” Mataro’s program co-hosts confirmed Cortez’ assumption, saying that Mataro had been receiving many death threats ever since he left the Iglesia Ni Cristo. In an interview conducted by UNTV, former INC national treasurer, Lydia Manuyag, said all of them in the program D’ X-Man often received death threats through text messages like, “We will skin you alive and we will be beheading you.” Manuyag said, with her experience with the INC, they really mean it. “…and we know that Marcos has the highest possibility of coming across this as he is the one mainly attacking the INC in our show.”
The ex-INC treasurer and her family were also exposed to the same danger when she transferred to the ADD group. “After I have testified in SBN 21, there were threats I received from my former religion … by April the year I transferred in ADD, we were being showered with bullets in our home. That was after the threat that I received a 24 hour countdown to return to the INC central.” On April 18, 2003, Manuyag’s husband, Marciano, received 8 gunshots in their home at Christianville Subdivision in Rizal. Four bullets hit Marciano but he survived, and he testified of the incident in the ADD program.
What follows are the assault cases of the same religious sect.
Members, deacons and even ministers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo had their fair share of murdering people. It is no challenge for this politically-influential group to maul some more unfortunate victims. Whether this is freedom taught in their chapels can only be checked by the frequency and magnitude of their conduct. Here are news reports confirming the imminent violence and danger upon encountering at the wrong place and at the wrong time this wrong group of people, the religious and moral gangrene that are the members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
On February 15, 2002, ten Iglesia Ni Cristo members mauled a Quezon City police officer in front of the INC chapel in Caloocan City, reported Gemma Amargo in Pilipino Star Ngayon. The victim was identified as SPO1 Ramon Austria, 49, member of the Central Police District (CPD) Investigation and Intelligence Division and Anti-Carnapping Unit. Austria’s body was badly beaten and has turned purple upon reaching the police station to report the incident. According to Austria, around 10 p.m., he was driving slowly due to traffic passing by the INC chapel at Guadenville, Quirino Highway, Caloocan City when the INC chapel security guard suddenly blocked his way and punched his car, a red Ford Laser with plate no. PPV-675. Austria immediately went out of the car but was surprised when another man gave him a warning shot, then pointed the gun at him and pulled his police ID. Eight more men came and forcibly took him into the chapel while beating him nonstop. He was lucky to have been able to escape and sought help from other police officers patrolling in the vicinity who took him to the hospital. After the incident, Austria’s service firearm and cell phone, a Nokia 8850 amounting to PhP24,000, were reportedly lost.
On April 18, 2006, two years prior to Marcos Mataro’s killing, former fellow INC members invited him for a discussion in a fast food chain restaurant in Apalit, Pampanga but ended in beating him up and his companions. The video footage of the incident was played in Ito Ang Balita in UNTV 37 where the INC group, led by a certain Mr. Ferma, a confirmed INC minister, was seen beating some ADD members and Mataro. The physically-mauled ADD members filed charges against the INC assailants, but the case was dismissed by San Fernando Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Otto Macabulos. The ADD group questioned this decision, for when this INC group filed charges of frustrated murder against the ADD, it passed. “In that food chain incident, we were the ones being physically beaten, abused, and mobbed and yet we were the ones charged of frustrated murder. It was the opposite of the true account…” Manuyag testified.
On October 2, 2007, INC members beat up three preachers from the Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ (PMCC) in a scheduled debate at the corner of Quiricada and Almeda streets in Manila. This was reported by Evelyn Macairan in Philippine Star Online. The violence began, according to police, when INC minister Felix Mangulabnan allegedly grabbed the video camera held by Allen Alhambra, 34, one of the PMCC preachers who was recording the said debate. Luz Esto, 49, and Rodolfo Catarroja, 50, both PMCC preachers helped get the camera when INC member Joseph Salombre joined the skirmish and beat up the PMCC preachers. Manila Police District (MPD) officers arrested Salombre after being identified by the PMCC preachers as one of those who beat them up and took the camera equipment that belonged to their church.
The next list of criminal records concerns cases of molestation and sexual abuse.
Criminals emerging from this religious sect, when not in the mood to slaughter or to beat up people, take pleasure in carnality, internalizing perhaps the legacy of their angel-preacher. Felix Manalo, the founder of the Iglesia Ni Cristo is believed by them to be an angel while Jesus Christ is a mere man. Whatever the form, if there’s any hideous activity, members, deacons and ministers alike participate, revolting against the most basic, sound and moral principles of human compassion, and putting at risk those who wish to follow the same. Where these criminals flourish, victims of abuse multiply. The following are news reports on rape cases of the Iglesia Ni Cristo that were able to reach the public notice.
On January 19, 1996, Alex Ching reported “Anak ng Diyakonesa, Niluray ng Diyakono” (Deacon Rapes Daughter of Deaconess) in Remate Tonight. Superintendent Efren Santos identified the accused as Sofronio Lopez, 29, an Iglesia Ni Cristo deacon residing in 54 NIA Road, Baranggay Pinahan, Quezon City together with the rape victim, the 13-year old daughter of his live-in partner an INC deaconess. According to investigating officer SPO4 Annie Dazo, Lopez had first molested the victim before Christmas in 1995. He was only able to grope the young girl’s body at that time. The victim said she could hardly move because she was drugged by Lopez. On the next incident, Lopez had completely raped her while she was unconscious due to the drug he gave her. Since then Lopez had molested the victim every time her mother left home. When the victim decided to confess to her mother about the molestation she experienced, the latter confronted the INC deacon who denied the accusation. Lopez insisted that she should first excommunicate herself from the Iglesia Ni Cristo before she could file a complaint because it is prohibited in their church to sue a brother or sister in faith. The deaconess decided to separate from her live-in partner and proceeded to the police station with the victim. Police authorities believe that Lopez, immediately after the confrontation, was hidden by fellow INC members in V. Luna Ext. in Quezon City.
On March 16, 2002, a 16-year old INC member filed a complaint in the police station against her brother-in-law, also an INC member, for raping her several times. Myra de Leon reported this in the newspaper Bagong Tiktik. According to the victim, she was raped seven times from July 2001 to March 1, 2002 in their home in Muntinlupa City by her sister’s husband Allan Ferrer, 32. The victim, who was temporarily staying in Baseco Compd. Port Area, Manila, reportedly had wanted to file a complaint against the rapist much earlier but did not do so due to her sister’s request, and also because the perpetrator was a fellow INC member. But after the last incident, she decided to proceed with the lawsuit. According to the victim, a high ranking police officer who was also an INC member tried to convince her to withdraw the rape charge, but she did not desist.
On June 13, 2002, in Lyn Villanueva’s report in the newspaper, Astig, another victim was a 17-year old girl raped by an Iglesia Ni Cristo deacon in Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte. According to Provincial Director Senior Supt. Florencio Magundayao, around seven in the evening, the 60-year old INC deacon, Teodulo Alaon alias Nano, called the victim who was just passing by their chapel, saying he would show her something important. At the back of the chapel the deacon pushed the victim to the dry grass, stuck cloth in her mouth and pointed at her a 12-inch knife before raping her three times. The INC deacon was arrested and imprisoned in the municipal jail after the victim confessed to her mother of the unfortunate incident.
With all these crimes surfacing from this religious group, it compels a sensical mind to ask why and to conclude that there must be a root of all these evil somewhere in the organization. And since the so-called “angel” Felix Manalo is the founder and former head of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, he is the primary subject to tracing this root, as well as to scrutinizing the founding principles of their church. For example, on what kind of leadership was the Iglesia Ni Cristo established? What morals did Manalo inculcate in his members before he, as an angel, died?
What follows are reports on the sexual abuse cases of the founder of the Iglesia Ni Cristo who pioneered this chain of criminal records.
On October to November 1954, a series of exposé written by Joe Cruz concerning the sexual abuses committed by Felix Manalo was published in the weekly newspaper, The Bombshell. The first of the series was published on October 21 headlined “Iglesia Ni Cristo ‘Head’, Angel or Sex Maniac?”
According to the article, Manalo, in his early twenties, although married and had six children, started “victimizing several women.” To mention a few who were abused by the so-called “angel” were Rosita Trillanes, Teresa Teodoro, Basilla Santos, and the ‘wives of several ministers that cannot talk for fear that they might be expelled as “Diakonesas.” (Deaconesses)’ The newspaper’s informant also disclosed several other names who were more or less under Manalo’s sex domination: Felicidad, Rosa, Virginia, Bining, Mrs. Santos, Toddy, Atang, Paz, Pilar and “several weeping souls that perhaps twice as much as those above-mentioned are, in one way or another, seeking revenge against Felix Manalo.”
To support the publication’s allegation, the published article contained the confession letter of one of Manalo’s victims, Rosita Trillanes. Here is an excerpt of the letter translated in English:
Letter of Rosita to Her Brothers
“Brothers: In my belief that I will find protection I agreed that I be brought to [the] Central Office by Brother Jacinto Torres. When I was already there I experienced the most bitter and painful in [t]he life of [a] maiden like me when Manalo, whom I considered as a father, abused me. At first he courted me but when I refused to accede to his wishes he struck and beat me which rendered me unconscious. And when I was already unconscious, he raped me. There I suffered much because of the ill-treatment, beating and [threatening] that I received whenever I protested against his lewd designs.”
On October 28, 1954, the second of the series of exposé was published in Tagalog, the original version of the first. Headlined “Felix Manalo, Immoral?” just like in the first issue, Manalo’s photo was on front page. This time, however, it was stated that the letter contained in the article was a Copy of the Decisions of the Court of Appeals reserved, in favor of ROSITA and against Manalo. Here are further excerpts of Rosita’s letter translated in English:
“I also witnessed many who have been raped by Felix Manalo: some are maidens; others are the wives of members and ministers. Manalo himself told me about the others whom he molested when he was persuading me to accede to his desires. He told me about some thirty women he abused. I could not reveal their names to protect their dignity, but they frequently come to the Office. In my presence, he raped a maiden who later became pregnant… All of these whom he violated fear to speak up because they were threatened to be killed if they do speak, like what he did to Basilia Santos of Paco, who points to Manalo as the father of her two children. …Your wives and daughters are in danger of suffering from the lusts of that man whom you consider and revere as a preacher of the words of God.”
Other important evidences given against Felix Manalo by the same expose:
Affidavit of Tomasa Geronimo published in one of the columns of “Ang Bansa” daily publication declared to wit: “Felix Manalo impregnated and bore a child to Teresa Teodoro. Teresa’s child is a girl.” Affidavit was made on Dec. 29, 1921.
Tomasa Geronimo and Basilia Santiago, both accused by Felix Manalo for “Paninirang Puri” (Libel), were acquitted by Judge Concepcion for legal evidences proven by the Court. The final sentence of Judge Concepcion over the case was published in “Taliba” on May 7, 1923, Vol. XIV, No. 78. “Felix Manalo’s immorality was proven by the court and Manalo was satisfied without appeal.” (Accusation of Tomasa Geronimo: Criminal Case No. 23858; Accusation of Basilia Santiago: Criminal Case No. 23859.)
The third of the series of exposé of Joe Cruz was published on November 4, 1954 headlined “Manalo Raped Me—Rosita.”
The secret to kingmaker-ship
Primary to the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the doctrine of bloc voting, written in their book “Mga Pangunahing Aral Na Sinasampalatayanan ng IGLESIA NI CRISTO” (Fundamental Teachings of the IGLESIA NI CRISTO). On page 127, written by their current Executive Minister, Eraño G. Manalo, he says (translated in English), “Do not destroy the unity of the Church whether regarding voting or other activity for this is an excommunicable sin in the Church.” To a critical mind, this doctrine of bloc voting is more like coercion and suppression of freedom of choice rather than unity.
Taking this for granted, the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s sphere of political influence is much revered by those who would like to have seats in the government. The group’s endorsement is also much awaited for during campaign period. According to Inquirer.net, on May 10, 2007, the Iglesia Ni Cristo “has a membership of at least two million — only a fifth of the 10 million required for a senatorial candidate to land in the winning circle of 12, but enough to provide a head start.” This ‘head start’ is an eye candy to politicians, enough even for presidential candidates to court the sect leader. They deem that whoever is given the blessings of the group’s executive minister, his seat in the government is assured.
What is their secret formula to being known as the “kingmaker”?
In a book written by former Iglesia Ni Cristo minister, Dr. Melanio P. Gabriel, Jr., titled “Ang mga Lihim at mga Kabulaanan ng Iglesia ni Cristo” (The Secrets and Lies of the Iglesia ni Cristo), on page 7, the total membership of INC is listed by years. Sources of the figures are the official magazine, Pasugo, of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, and other prominent newspapers. The list shows the year, membership and the publication where the figures were published, respectively: 1949, 4 million, Pasugo, August 1954, p.5-6; 1950, 2 million, Pasugo, December 1955, p.35-36; 1951, 2 million, Pasugo, July 1951, p.24; 1955, 1 million, Pasugo, July 1964, p.23; 1961, 4 million, Manila Times, October 13, 1961; 1963, 3.5 million, Sunday Times Magazine, April 28, 1963, p.62; 1964, 3 million, Sunday Times Magazine, August 9, 1964, p.28-29; 1965, 4 million, Philippine Herald, November 1, 1965; 1966, 5 million, Manila Times, May 9, 1966 and Pasugo, July 1966, p.6.
As observed in the given figures, the total number of members of this organization radically fluctuates. They have announced their total membership in their official magazine, Pasugo, in 1955, and the figure they gave was 1 million. In 1966, only after a decade, they have reported a total of 5 million members in both the broadsheet Manila Times and in their Pasugo. As of 2007, in Inquirer.net, the group “has a membership of at least two million,” as aforementioned. Therefore, it appears like a guessing game.
However, there are more reliable sources than the Pasugo of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, like the Bureau of Census and Statistics. Here is an extract of Joe Cruz’ report from the newspaper The Bombshell, published on October 21, 1954:
“…the Philippines Free Press, dated April 23, 1950, made all estimation of more or less two million members. It was the most shocking news perhaps to other religious organization ever made publicly. Since it scattered like wildfire that engulf the four corners of the Philippines, Roxas, Avelino and Quirino were prompted to see the founder of “Iglesia Ni Cristo,” and perhaps President Magsaysay too, for some political reasons. Analyzing its members whether such number is true, there are only 86, 125 members as of 1953, as far as the Bureau of Census and Statistics is concerned and not two million as claimed.”
The truth about INC’s mythical numbers
Records show that Eraño Manalo, the Executive Minister, was berating his ministers for faking attendance and membership rolls to make it appear that their church is growing. Manalo was speaking in the vernacular but this had been translated into English and disseminated all over the Internet. The one who has a video clip of this meeting, however, is Bro. Eliseo Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God, International (MCGI) better known as Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path). He plays this clip now and then to millions of his audience, one reason the Iglesia Ni Cristo want to stop him talking at all costs. The Iglesia Ni Cristo had been filing case after case against Soriano to include a mocked-up rape case filed by a former member of Soriano’s group.
The following are excerpts of the translated version from Tagalog to English written by Jane Abao in Newsvine on “Church group gangs up on supreme court justice contender.”
[This is Eraño Manalo talking to his flock.]
“Wait, look here, brethren. That is the one in charge of Visayas and Mindanao. We have changed those long in management. So, one by one, they are coming to me, complaining.
“Brother, I have a problem.
“Those written in our census, the names of the brethren, I cannot see them here in my destination.
“What does it mean? I said.
“The number, it is too big, but in truth, there are no people. In Camarines, I mean Sorsogon, they were asking me to remove not less than 400 people because there are only a few people in Sorsogon.
“I saw in the records clearly and there were just more than a hundred. But those to be removed were 400.
“Why, what did those destined there before did? Why, they were changing the reports! They only made it impressive so that they would not be scolded! Instead, his concern is himself, not the needs of the church. Did that happen only in Sorsogon? It is rampant here and there. Even in Manila.
“THE CHURCH WORKERS HERE ARE CHEATERS! They would tell you, I am indoctrinating that one, but it is not so. They would tell you, I have baptized that one. He has been tried in worship services, but it is not true. Why? It was observed among the older ministers; it was observed among the older church workers, that that was the way they could be seen as good in the eyes of the Administration.
“They are the ones now [protecting their own sake]. But how long will the church stand since it is being FOUGHT by the CHURCH WORKERS, BEING TROUBLED, DEGRADED, DEFAMED AND FORCED TO DO WRONG? Where have you seen a church worker that instead of raising what is brought down it is the one raised that would be put down just so he would appear good? If in Manila, this is happening, more so in the provinces, more so in far flung places.
“Look at Mindanao and Visayas now, and all the …. Oh, it’s different. It will be suddenly changed, the church census. What is the cause? Those brethren are not there. They only say they are there. Who did that? Those dishonest church workers. It is not the brother. The brother, if he makes a mistake, it is not intentional. THE MINISTER, HE DOES IT INTENTIONALLY!
“I called for a meeting among those in charge in Manila to tell them: Brethren, help me. I don’t like the worker to die; what I want is that we help them survive. Tell me how we can help.
“But no; what they told me are not how we could help them. What they told me are the wrong doings!
“One told me, Brother, is it all right that the outline is not being taught? Everytime they choose three verses, they are asked, oh, do you understand that? Is it right, brother that he signs for all the proofs? He falsifies the signature of the secretary and those entrusted with the work?
“I stopped him. I did not even ask who was doing that. Why? I know that the worker in Manila will lose his honor if this is known to all that he is a thief and a brute.”