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MCGI Choir is Current World’s Largest Gospel Choir – Guinness

By Jane Abao

UPDATE, Manila, Philippines (5/25/2016) – On May 22, 2016, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) made an attempt to break the Guinness World Record to Largest Gospel Choir with an alleged 21, 272 participants. They then made an announcement that they broke the record. The announcement was made in defiance about to whom they were supposedly breaking the record. Eagle News of the INC earlier reported: “The current record is 8,688 held by man choir of the Believers LoveWorld Ministry, also known as Christ Embassy on December 2015.”

This is gross violation to broadcast ethics according to the Members Church of God International (MCGI). First, the INC made an announcement of having broken the record. Second, they did not recognise the current title holder that is the ADD Chorale of MCGI that won the award on October 12, 2015 with 8,688 participants.

Understandably, they think winning a Guinness is like a basketball game wherein if you add, you get back the title. The INC was title holder to Largest Gospel Choir on July 27, 2014 with only 4,745 singers. But this 2016 attempt is one that they soon realize is still uncooked. Here’s a video they posted in YouTube saying their attempt still has to be submitted to Guinness. They were forced to admit that this is something “still in progress” upon receiving many complaints from the public that they are lying. Normally, awards from the Guinness World Records are given the same day, the GWR adjudicator being present during the event. But there was none in attendance in this INC event. The reporter who first reported about the attempt had clarified that. There was no GWR Adjudicator in attendance during that May 22,2016 event: a failed attempt to get back the title of Largest Gospel Choir.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.11.05Manila, Philippines (1/9/2016) – Guinness World Records (GWR) has recently confirmed that the present titleholder to Largest Gospel Choir is still the Members Church of God International (MCGI) in the Philippines.

The confirmation sought for by MCGI from the reporter’s website and GWR was necessary in the wake of reports that Christ Embassy Choir (No country indicated) is the present titleholder to the record.

On October 12, 2015, Ang Dating Daan, a Bible-based program of the MCGI, was celebrating its 35th anniversary at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines. As part of the celebration, the Ang Dating Daan Chorale sang a medley of gospel songs properly conducted under concert conditions. In attendance were 8,688 choristers as verified by an external auditing firm P & A Grant Thornton using Turnstile counting, barcoded ticketing method. Acting as official witness was Philippine Congressman Neil Tupas. Having met all the requirements listed on the Guinness World Records website to bag the Largest Gospel Choir Category, Adjudicator, Mrs. Fortuna Burke Melhem judged them as the current record-breaker of all time. Melhem congratulated the organization and welcomed the Ang Dating Daan Chorale to the Guinness World Records family. The previous record-holder of 4,745 participants was that of the Iglesia ni Cristo, also from the Philippines.

However, on December 23, 2015, the kingdomboiz.com site reported about a Christ Embassy Choir bagging a Guinness World Record, and it was about being “Largest Gospel Choir.” Incidentally, such false reporting was exploited by enemies to heckle the incumbent titleholder. Guinness’ reply to MCGI’s inquiry proved that the report about Christ Embassy bagging the Largest Gospel Choir award is misleading or at worst, false.

This false report was used widely by members of the Iglesia ni Cristo to heckle MCGI, much more claim that the award won by the latter is fake. INC is publicly known as an archenemy of MCGI. An archenemy, as defined, is one who is extremely hostile or opposed to someone. The Presiding Minister to MCGI, Bro. Eli Soriano, is known to expose false teachings in his Bible Exposition programs, but among all religions, it is the INC that does not take criticisms fairly. The activities of the INC prompted MCGI to find out the truth.

MCGI, among others, challenged the report for the lack of mention of a GWR adjudicator present, the rounded number of 12,000 participants, and the no-show of a clip of the awarding ceremony.

MCGI noticed that a report by a certain Tobisyn in kingdomboiz.com (12/26/2015) mentioned that Christ Embassy choir bagged a Guinness World Record with their 12,000 participants to largest gospel choir.

The report said they sang Christmas songs and carols “to honor Christ on his birthday.” He had asked that the video be shared and by the time of inquiry had 555 shares. The 12,000 was obviously repeated in the paragraphs to underscore the number supposedly beating all others.

MCGI was then tasked to find out. Google search results at Guinness World Records reflect the following (some 13 days after the report said Christ Embassy won as Largest Gospel Choir). The one at top left reflects MCGI (Members Church of God International) as present titleholder.

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 14.58.25.png

In their inquiry from both Tobisyn’s group and Guinness World Records, MCGI asked the following: “Did it really happen that Guinness awarded this Christ Embassy Choir with Largest Gospel Choir in December 2015?”

It challenged that the report did not mention any Guinness World Records Adjudicator who was present during the affair.

The MCGI inquiry also wondered about the 12,000 and the absence of a video clip on the awarding, thus –

The rounded number of 12,000 is also a surprise because in life, it does not happen that people come in by rounded numbers. What was the exact number of participants? If at all, why did the video not present the awarding if there was such an awarding?

The video being propagated in kingdomboiz.com and YouTube only shows someone beating at a distance and numbers of people being shot. Meanwhile, Guinness World Records answered the MCGI inquiry (1/9/2016) thus –

The largest gospel choir consists of 8,688 participants and was achieved by the Members Church of God International (Philippines), at the Araneta Coliseum, Manila, Philippines, on 12 October 2015. We can also confirm that an adjudicator was present for the event.

This is the letter from GWR –

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 07.18.56.png

And this is about MCGI winning in the Guinness site –

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 09.38.55

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-gospel-choir

Meanwhile, to date there was no response from the side of Christ Embassy Church although the website says it welcomes inquiries and complaints. A check on Wikipedia says –

Christ Embassy, also known as Believers’ LoveWorld Incorporated, is a Church and Mission Group led by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. It is based in Lagos, Nigeria and has offices in the United Kingdom, United States of America, and South Africa.

Here was Tobisyn’s report that MCGI found as false reporting –

http://kingdomboiz.com/christ-embassy-choir-bags-a-guinness-world-record/

The false report was also replicated in YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwRsB3JHmIM

The MCGI letter reminded the website bannering Christ Embassy Choir that if the report is not true, it does not advance truth. The reporter should correct himself, at best through public apology. The letter ended thus –

A true church would fight for truth and not shield anyone attempting to lie, in the same way that your site should stand for truth. We hope we can correct things so that we won’t be adding to the confusion being propagated in the world.

However, to date, there was no explanation coming from Christ Embassy Church or choir or website. #

 

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 54,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 20 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in preaching

 

TopTen Judge: Making a Destructive List For Ratings

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (12/92015) – Making a list of “Top Tens” can be subject to abuse. It inherently requires authority, research, and truth. If it is only about material things, there is not much quarrel expected if one does his research. If it concerns people, the higher level of care is imposed upon the one making the list.

Sometime this December this year, the Members Church of God International or Ang Dating Daan as more popularly known, noticed a blog posted by PinoyTopTens or toptendotph titled, “TOP 10 WORST RELIGIOUS SCANDALS PHILIPPINES.” There is no name of author except TOPTEN.PH and there is no date reflected on the blog. However, a check on Google says it was posted on August 26, 2014. That means that blog had been going the rounds for more than a year. That expanse of time for exposure increases the liability of this blog writer.

The blog started with a Bible quote, suggesting that those about to be named are false prophets.

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves … For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (Matthew 7:15; 2nd Corinthians 11:13)

This is opening paragraph –

If the Church is losing its believers, it would not be because of other faiths – Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS or what-not- it would have been because of implosion: from the inside. Increasingly, priests today have become the Pharisees of long ago. Moneyed, in wheels, untouchables. And where Jesus has walked the Earth almost barefoot, these new leaders cruise in their beautiful SUV’s and preach not by example but by show. At least that’s what we see in the list below. Yes, good leaders still abound. Pope Francis is a blessing, no doubt. But the “Padre Damasos” of today abound. From the looks of it, it seems a Pandora’s box is just waiting to explode. Tick! Tock! Tick! Tock!

This is followed by a list of nine catholic priests and bishops. The only exception is that the author inserted Bro. Eli Soriano of Ang Dating Daan in the middle (#5). After each name, the author placed “allegations” but does not show any reference where he got all these stories. Therefore, after each story, he placed: “Alleged offender: XY.”

If we focus on the extraneous one – that of Bro. Eli Soriano – the composition is only 132 words. “Alleged” was used twice: once for what the complainant, Daniel Veridiano, claimed, and once for the name of supposed offender. “Scandal” was also used twice: for the title, “Televangelist Sex Scandal” and its introduction, “Now for a non-Catholic scandal.”

His rendition of the piece in some parts sounded like truth: For example, “On May 2006, rape charges were filed against this charismatic religious leader of Dating Daan. The defiled: his former staff, Daniel Veridiano.” It did not even quote a source. And there’s no indication of the status of the case as if his words were final.

The part on Bro. Eli ended with, “Analysts suspect Veridiano was instigated by INC (Iglesia ni Cristo), a rival religious group to which the complainant now belongs. Said sex offender has been reportedly lambasting the sect to no end.”

While the writer was trying hard to do a semblance of objectivity with the above phrase, he had lumped Bro. Eli with his accusation in the beginning: “Increasingly, priests today have become the Pharisees of long ago. Moneyed, in wheels, untouchables.”

The Questions

First, we take the author to task. What is your name? The readers, more particularly those of Bro. Eli’s camp, are entitled to know who is this accusing who.

Bro. Eli is moneyed? He has businesses established here and there to take care of propagation; in that way he is able to expand more the work of propagation without unnecessarily burdening the members. But to say he is moneyed suggests carrying and using money that is not his own like the Pharisees that he compares Bro. Eli with. The earnings of the businesses he put up are meant to take care of God’s work.

In wheels? Bro. Eli has no private car, but rides public transportations, even willing to wait for hours at terminals. You can see him in international airports also waiting for his turn. Whatever the church provides for his convoy to go to Bible Expositions, he is content with that. He would rather use money for Bible Expositions to reach out to more and more, rather than spend for private property. He has no need for that. He lives in a home where there are many working for the church and backing up his busy activities. The garage, he uses for impromptu broadcasting center.

He is not untouchable? He is even powerless that many cases have been filed against him by the powerful Iglesia ni Cristo. Although most of the cases had been dismissed, there are others yet pending, including this case filed by Daniel Veridiano, himself a self-confessed rapist. It is not yet over as Veridiano has all the backings of the powerful. But your Top Ten #5 implies it is over. [Here’s a peck into Veridiano.] https://jakeastudillo.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/portrait-of-the-raped-man-for-whom-the-interpol-would-mobilize/

Neither is Bro. Eli acting like “the Pharisees of long ago.” You are wrong, mister! More yet, he is not a false prophet. Knowing Bro. Eli well, he would even call you the false prophet hiding under anonymity! Again, what is your name?

Making a List of People

Making a list is not valid, more yet destructive – when it comes to simply naming people. How acceptable is your list? By what means did you make that up? What criteria did you use? Simply put, a judge of one is debatable.

Merely making a list of people is easy but has many pitfalls. In fact, making a list is equivalent to making an opinion and therefore necessitates defending one’s list.

There are several reasons one makes a list, and one of that is to facilitate writing, which writing does not require very much thinking because one can refer to other documents. That works for the individual items that make the list. How about the total make-up of it? How did you judge your entries? How did you make sure the items fit well? In other words, what was your methodology in composing the list?

Juvenile Thinking

It is juvenile to think one can simply make a list and that is truth already. If you make a list about this kind of things, you may be right, you may be wrong, but no one is going to fight you because no one may get offended: Biggest Casinos in the Philippines, Accidents that Kill Pinoys the Most, Common Modes of Transportation in the Philippines, Diseases Killing Pinoys the Most, and Weirdest Food Pinoys Eat, among other material things.

Standards in Practice

It is clear TOPTENdotPH wrote a sexscandal story, supposedly of priests that are “moneyed, in wheels and untouchable.” The supposed offense is sex crime. Unfortunately, Bro. Eli does not even fall under any of these categories. The author had acted as judge, jury and executioner – all in one. When it comes to people, one must be careful in making a list.

Expectations

There are expectations when one makes a list of people and are the following:

  • It is a competition and all participants have submitted themselves as willing participants.
  • For such submission, all are bound by the rules, one of which is selection from the best of these participants.
  • The competition is not meant to bring destruction to participants but to advance and encourage their cause.
  • There are judges whose selection have been based upon knowledge, familiarity with the field being judged, and free from bias.
  • There is a period covered or a range for which they are Top Ten.

The Danger

Sadly, using the terms, “Top Ten” gives the impression that the list has been vetted. More yet, using the privilege one step more to come up with the name, “ Pinoy’s Top Ten,” for the website’s nomenclature. Do you represent the Filipino people? That is the impression you give.

About all the lists the site has produced, there is not much contention when it comes to simply material things. When people are concerned, however, one must be extra-careful.

This irresponsible blog we are addressing can be subject to cybercrime laws.

What could be the Motive

Bro. Eli’s camp have become wiser. They know, for example, when a giant TV station wanted to exploit the popularity of the preacher for ratings. This station aired a one-sided interview from his supposed accuser. When they opened a sister station, on the first anniversary of that sister station, it aired that controversial interview even after being told that they erred. Now, they are subject to boycott that is going 5 years already.

[You can read the long description about the boycott here.] https://www.facebook.com/kotawinters/info/?tab=page_info

Websites that attempt to exploit Bro. Eli’s popularity can no longer take that tack: the million members of the Ang Dating Daan are not biting. They won’t go to your sites one by one and comment one by one so that traffic will lead to the road going to you, and in the end, make you popular.

Assurance

There’s one thing the public can be assured of: If Bro. Eli Soriano is corrupt in any way: money, sex, character, teachings from the Bible, you can be sure the members of the Church of God International that he is Presiding Minister to, will leave him immediately. There will be no need to destroy him. It will be the very members who can discern right away if he is.

But to include him in your list of corrupt Roman Catholic priests and bishops, that is not acceptable. You have to answer for that.

Zero Rating

And by the way, here’s about TopTen.ph as described by HotSiteD:

Overview: Topten.ph has a global Alexa ranking of 340,912 and ranked 12,146th in Philippines. The global rank improved 104,105 positions versus the previous 3 months. The website server is using IP address 67.20.76.113 and is hosted in United States. The Google page rank of this website is 0/10.

You rank zero on Google!

So enough is enough!

 

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Iglesia ni Cristo: Snapping Dissent with Familiar Patterns

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (August 15, 2015) – What did experts think about the dissent within the Iglesia ni Cristo?

The INC is facing a crisis. That’s very clear from recent news. Critics claim that the leaders of the group are wasting money citing the millions of pesos being spent for their airplane. Rappler reports-

The Airbus that [Eduardo] Manalo and his ministers are using is aside from a Boeing Business Jet 737 that had been described as “the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation.” Depending on the model, a passenger business jet can seat from 85 to 215 passengers, while a customized executive jet can have a bedroom and seats good for 20-30 passengers, sources familiar with aircraft told Rappler.

The Boeing Business Jet 737 is said to have been purchased 4 years ago at an estimated price of about P3.6 billion ($80 million), the sources told us. Yearly maintenance costs of these types of aircraft, according to those in the know, easily amount to from P3 million to P4 million. This excludes fuel expenses. (http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/investigative/100445-iglesia-leaders-billions-pesos-aircraft).

Added to this is abduction of ministers who were critical of the administration. Lowell Menorca’s case, for one, is intriguing. (http://www.rappler.com/nation/100501-inc-minister-lowell-menorca-released). There are allegedly no abductions happening. This is denied by the church. (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/707413/what-split-what-corruption-iglesia-ni-cristo-spokesman)

But they immediately excommunicated some critics including the mother and brother of the Executive Minister, Eduardo Manalo. (http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/07/23/1480126/iglesia-ni-cristo-expels-leaders-mother-brother)

They even filed libel cases against the critics. (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/07/28/15/iglesia-ni-cristo-sues-expelled-minister-libel)

The crisis is not yet over as the critics try to create a movement “to return the church to its old splendor when it first began with Felix Manalo.” (See Nehemiah Ecclesiastes, Official videos, Facebook, 8/10/2015).

What is happening with the Iglesia ni Cristo? Where is the Iglesia headed for?

Four sources have invariably discussed what is happening with the Iglesia ni Cristo through their own platform: a professor of Philippine Studies, a Sociologist of Religion, a Bible Scholar, and a minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo who left his organization with many questions on his head.

The professor of Philippine Studies was asked about what he thought about the INC controversy. The sect is usually secretive, he said. There is a need for transparency.

Written by Joe Torres (ucanews, 8/10/2015), the interviewee noted that secrecy is one of hallmarks of this religious sect. In “Public rift puts 101-year-old Philippines sect under spotlight,” he highlighted the need for transparency. Here’s part of the report –

David Michael San Juan, professor of Philippine Studies at De La Salle University in Manila, said the public rift represents a crossroads for the usually secretive sect.

“The rift may weaken it if it fails to address concerns on transparency and other issues,” he said. “The rift may strengthen it if it leads to more transparency in their highly respected institution.”

In other words, secrecy in the sect has contributed to their undoing. San Juan said some issues that church members raised are valid and that includes the allegation about certain ministers trying to extort money from politicians, and the allegation that church funds for being used for some leaders’ luxury. These are public issues, he said.(http://www.ucanews.com/news/public-rift-puts-101-year-old-philippines-sect-under-spotlight/74040)

Earlier, Rappler.com posted a Podcast titled “Saan patungo ang Iglesia ni Cristo?” (Where is the Iglesia ni Cristo bound for? (8/8/2015). Jayeel Cornelio a Sociologist of Religion is said to point to some INC growth at another level: “religious worldling.”

Worldling is inherently negative, but as the column of Cornelio proposes the concept of “religious worldling” to explain what is happening with the INC, he lauds the group in terms of sophistication in the positive sense.

The Director of Development Studies Program of Ateneo in “INC, Philippine Arena, and religious worldling” was theorizing that with the mammoth Philippine Arena, the INC has achieved some sophistication.

Worldling

WorldlingDotOrg says the term “worlding” cannot be found in any dictionary, even though the term has been in use for nearly a century. Martin Heidegger is said to have popularized the neologism in his 1927 Being and Time to mean “being-in-the-world.”

A worldling is a person who is primarily concerned with worldly matters or material things. As applied with the Iglesia ni Cristo, the focus was on expansion – material at that, with the Philippine Arena giving the high point of assessment.

Now, we come to a preacher. What did he think about this INC crisis? It is a judgment from God says Bro. Eli Soriano, Presiding Minister to the Members Church of God International (MCGI). Do not mistake that for “pagsubok” or trial. Only fanatics insist it is trial, and that corruption is being revealed only now. No, that church has been corrupt from the beginning, he says.

Soriano’s blog says it best. In “Gravity Floating Up All Secrets of Secrets,” he writes –

What is obtaining now with the Iglesia ni Cristo ni Manalo is that in spite of their indoctrinated secrecy of what they do, a force from above is making those secrets surface. Undoubtedly, it is the power of God! That group has long been practicing the act of covering up ugly matters inside their church, of bringing them down, and layering them into secrecy.

But what they did to five PUP students in secret, for example, came out. The case said their members involved mangled the victims’ bodies at the basement of their chapel. The dead bodies floated and were fished out from the muddy Pasig River!!!! (See Supreme Courts Annotated, Vol. 339, August 28, 2000 on the case People vs. Abella).

In an attempt to flush the killing off, the river was the supposed solution. But the bodies floated up to witness against the killers.

What did Soriano think about what’s happening?

Can we say this is like the Cambrian Period where it is said there is a massive explosion of revelation? (Note: I do not believe in the Cambrian Period being an explosion).

We cannot say that corruption in the Iglesia ni Cristo ni Manalo evolved! What is true in the Cambrian Period is collaterally true with the INC of Manalo. Since its inception, there are the corrupt practices of its ministers! It is proven by the very words of Eraño Manalo, second generation Executive Minister, that the corruption among the present generation of his ministers was inherited from ministers pioneering their works of corruption! It was earlier proven by a circular signed by Felix Manalo, first generation Executive or Presiding Minister, himself revealing the corrupt practices of his pioneering ministers. (http://www.controversyextraordinary.com/2015/08/gravity-floating-up-all-secrets-of.html)

Finally, we look into a minister who left the INC.

On a circular read in the whole district of Leyte, July 25, 2015, Joven O. Sepillo Sr is excommunicated for allegedly fighting the Administration and circulating false information with the objective of troubling the church. Sepillo Sr. said he had decided to come out in public to clear out his name against this charge.

Sepillo, Sr. an INC minister for 29 years but excommunicated by the Sanggunian together with his family, was bidding goodbye to his calling as minister for what he considered to be irreconcilable to his principles. He was expelled instead. The following are excerpts from his post [translated from Tagalog] centered on many questions similar to those being voiced out by other excommunicated INC ministers –

If only I left in an orderly way, it would not reach this far, they said. Is what is orderly, bidding goodbye without mentioning any shenanigans and not calling the Administration to counter these? Have they found out that there is no corruption going on now? Has the Administration done an honest-to-goodness investigation to protect the Sanggunian from false accusations? If they have but the ones told to investigate are themselves the accused, will justice be seen by the brethren who are looking for truth?

I am sad that what is often heard from the Spokesman of the Iglesia regarding critics is that they are only defaming without showing any evidence. Those opposing corruption are shown as evil and creating trouble in the church. They are the ones being persecuted, threatened, and done with, just to silence them.

Is there no one from the Sanggunian who will stand for truth? Shall we only wait for the hand of God to render judgment on the guilty? They may have forgotten that it is a Nation of God that they are managing.

The root cause of these troubles now is the change of perceptions among ministers about their supposed life in the ministry. Some are not aware that this is where corruption entered in – the supposed lifestyle of ministers. (See post by Jorge. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/711261/doj-secures-3-expelled-iglesia-ni-cristo-members).

Interpretations

San Juan, the professor, said secrecy has not done good to the INC. He considers that some of the issues raised by the members of the INC are public and therefore valid.

Cornelio, the sociologist says the INC has come to religious worldling, a sophistication that he tends to congratulate, although it is not about being godly but worldly. Cornelio has barely scratched the surface and his basic fault is the color of his tone. He provides no proper guidance for the reader since his moral compass is also faulty. Notice his use of the term, “Moral Economies.”

At the bottom of his column is written this part:

Some parts of this column are derived from the paper Cornelio presented at the international workshop “Emerging Moral Economies in Southeast Asia” at L’ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris in June 2014.

This italics part in a way explains the deficiency in Cornelio’s analysis. The original material was written one year before this public clash between the Manalo brothers with the Sanggunian on the side of Eduardo Manalo, the incumbent executive minister. Where was Cornelio all the time?

The column of this Sociologist of Religion is pathetically dead and deaf to events that have recently unfolded and still are. There was no attempt at updating. He had disregarded the fact that the INC members question the purpose of the mammoth building and even as basic as its maintenance. This is moral economy for Cornelio?

The second review of this Jayeel Serrano Cornelio talks of “restorationist ethos” of the INC but still suggests a patronizing attitude. With all the news coming out from many quarters, one would wonder if Cornelio is a PR man for the INC. His article of August 13, 2015 says –

The church espouses a restorationist ethos as it claims to be the one true church called to take Christianity back to its original character and form of worship. It has several distinctive elements, among which is the absolute oneness doctrine that pits it against the Trinitarian mainstream in the Philippines.

Its founder, Felix Y. Manalo, is believed to be the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy that in the last days, an Angel from the East will arise. The church has therefore effectively sacralized the Philippines as a nation that plays an instrumental role in the last days.

The church’s unity is also one enduring source of pride for its members.

Unity manifests itself in different ways, such as doctrinal uniformity and submission to the leadership. Members are expected to heed their ministers, for example, on matters of faith and interpretation of Scriptures.

Members also fall in line during national elections, voting as a bloc for whatever candidates church leaders tell them to support. Members cannot take each other to court nor can they marry nonmembers. Even the predictable neo-gothic architecture of its churches is evocative of Iglesia ni Cristo’s institutional unity.  (http://www.ucanews.com/news/after-101-years-growing-pains-for-philippines-iglesia-ni-cristo/74075)

One wonders now how Cornelio was educated. Was he taught to think critically?

Here’s a quote from Albert Einstein’s Ideas and Opinions (1954). It emphasizes the importance of bracing all education with critical thinking principles and the development of character – no matter what specialization.

It is not enough to teach a man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he – with his specialized knowledge – more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person. He must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings in order to acquire a proper relationship to the individual fellow-men and to the community.

It’s a waste of time when a sociologist of religion writes without first manifesting on the environment. It is even dangerous that he professes to teach the Catholic world about the INC. If he is writing for United Catholic Asia News, he is only misleading the people there. Has he come across what the critic ministers are saying? There’s a Farley de Castro that is often reported by Ces Drilon of ABS-CBN. De Castro is one of the INC ministers excommunicated. Here are excerpts (translated from Tagalog) from his talk (Part III) –

They are just running away. They just do not want to answer the many questions about the anomalies and corruption issues happening now in the church.

Why don’t they answer? They said they will answer the questions last Tuesday [August 4, 2015] during the Prayer Meeting but they dealt with another topic. Aren’t they liars? And until now they haven’t answered the questions regarding anomalies in the church.

 

In Part II, here are some of Farley de Castro’s words [translated from Tagalog] addressing his brothers –

We saw how the words of God were used as basis in persecuting and abusing others by those who have no right. The abuse and wrong use of the words of God to deceive and make the brethren believe to accept their deeds and their reasons. Our poor brethren, our brethren who cannot do anything but follow.

But my question is, why is this done in the management of ministers? They said, isn’t it true that this church won’t apostate anymore? Yes, but many individuals will apostate if they do not move – if we don’t help them, if we don’t love them. Most of them are poor but with full faith, giving their all with readiness.

But our offerings are being wasted in a lifestyle meant only for personal interest.

He addresses Eduardo Manalo, the Executive Minster, and asks many questions, even an intriguing one about the spirit that dwells at their Central. [Note: Central refers to the main headquarters of the INC).

Bro. Eduardo, I have been hearing you for a very long time and I know that you love the church. But why now, why did you allow the church to go this way?

Didn’t you know that from the beginning the church would become like this if your wife will always intervene? Because this was the order of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo before he died. Why is it that we who are standing for righteousness are the very ones being expelled? Is it really true that the spirit of the devil thrives at Central? We love you, Bro. Eduardo.

Didn’t you know from the beginning what your mother and your brother wanted, especially Bro. Angel? Didn’t you know that never did he want to grab your rights? Didn’t you know that they only wanted to let the church restored from the beginning when the messenger of the last days started it? May God have mercy and remember his nation.(https://www.facebook.com/NehemiahEcclesiastesOfficial/videos/vb.414257252092254/440362976148348/?type=2&theater)

If Cornelio had scanned the environment well before writing, he would know that there’s no honest attempt at “restoration ethos” in the way he presented it. There is logically no restoration ethos where communication lines are not open. As a consequence, there’s no restoration ethos where the leader is found decidedly weak and indecisive, cutting off links even with his very own mother and siblings.

What sorely obtains is more of a group confronting the administration and calling for a movement (kilusan) to force a return to the old set-up (physical) – because things are not normal. The resolution they basically wanted was for Eduardo Manalo not to listen to his wife, some peace, and a simple life style for the ministers. For a restoration ethos to materialize, it should start from the head having the drive, the discipline, and the desire. It should not come from the few critics at the side. But clearly, when a fish rots, it begins from the head.

As expected, there’s no response from his side. From all accounts, he and his men were not even answering questions of their brethren who wanted at least the children of Eraño Manalo to be back to their posts and their power restored. But Sociologist Cornelio appeared more of writing public relations pieces, taking extreme care lest he mention any fault. One is inclined to think he is an INC trolling in United Catholic Asia News, ready to neutralize whatever is written against the INC. That is barely a way to be helpful to society as a sociologist of religion.

Back to interpretations, when it comes to religion, the most that should be consulted are those that handle the words of God for this is the commodity in question. What is happening now? Preacher Soriano declares it is a judgment from God that the INC is being revealed as corrupt even from the beginning.

Admitting that he is the fiercest critic of the INC, Soriano would examine their beliefs and practices now and then – would answer to questions about the INC in his regular Bible Expositions. For that, he has attracted many court cases filed against him by the INC – including threats on his life. These have all become the drama that the broadsheets, the TV and the Internet would banner for several years.

The preacher talks about disturbing familiar patterns in the way the INC reacts to dissent – coming from his experience with the INC and paralleling those reported in the news. These practices and their attendant difficulties have been inflicted on him and those of others he knew, but never in his mind did he imagine they will happen to the very members of the INC.

What about the INC minister who had decided to leave his ministry? Sevillo Sr, the expelled INC minister, tends to agree with all of these three experts: (1) There is lack of transparency in the INC as pointed out by Prof. San Juan; (2) The INC has become worldly-wise as discussed by Sociologist Cornelio, but in the sense that it has become materialistic; (3) Corruption is with them according to Preacher Soriano, yes; but judgment may not have come yet. Sevillo Sr. seems hesitant to admit God’s judgment happening at this time, but he uses it as a warning stick against Eduardo Manalo’s administration. He adds a fourth one, his own interpretation of events: (4) The lifestyles of the ministers have led to this organizational upheaval

Like other INC’s who have began to doubt why these things are happening within them if they are a true church, Sevillo Sr. is still staying with the INC despite what he had observed. His belief is intact – presumably including the belief that Christ is mere human being.

Bro. Eli and the INC

As dissent within the INC develops amidst efforts to counter them – mostly suppress them – the following chips have in many forms bobbed up like familiar patterns of a template observed in the past: (a) Pressure on the Department of Justice, (b) Use of the National Bureau of Investigation as a personal bodyguard, (c) Framing up for a charge of rape, (d) Case closed case unclosed, (e) One-sided media, (f) Assignment to kill, (g) No mercy, (h) Humiliating the victim, (i) Hounding the leaving or those who criticize, (j) Gunshots fired at the home, (k) Brainwashing the members.

These were so in the case of Bro. Eli Soriano, the foremost critic of the INC. The INC has applied all of these to him and the people with him.

Aren’t these parts of the culture of the Iglesia ni Cristo? Why do they repeat themselves and this time on their very own people? It is not enough to just mention them as how they are worsening, only the victims can tell. But definitely politicians are wittingly or unwittingly part of the whole scheme. We will look into five of these practices later.

As defined in the dictionary, dissent is the expression or holding of opinions at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially held. Synonyms are disapproval, disagreement, difference of opinion.

But not all dissent is bad. Some are good when truth is king as in the case of critiquing their beliefs by Preacher Soriano and disapproving of maltreatment of the family of Eraño Manalo by Sevillo Sr.

In brief, here are how the familiar patterns have come into Bro. Eli’s life: He, as a bible man, believes he should correct whatever practices he finds are not biblical. That is part of his commission. But the INC is one that takes criticisms to the point of wanting him killed, if not imprisoned (with false charges), and humiliated before the world.

That explains how Luisito Amansec, a former INC hitman, found out the truth about the preacher and confessed that he was around to bump Bro. Eli dead. He became a member of the MCGI instead. Lying has long been with the INC ministers that Bro. Eli is not what they picture him to be. Amansec realized that his heart learned mercy for the first time when he saw Bro. Eli, long pictured as evil in the Iglesia ni Cristo.

In a case for libel where Bro. Eli won, video tapes and DVD’s had been provided to the court where INC ministers were calling him names like “dayukdok,  “mandarambong, “mongongotong,’ “matakaw sa pera,” “Seaman-loloko,” among many other names through their program, Ang Tamang Daan. In English, they mean starved, plunderer, extortioner, money-hungry, and deceiver. They were doing this but MTRCB never sanctioned them.

Bro. Eli also had provided proofs that the INC had distorted his speeches and commentaries to prove consistent patterns of mangling of tapes by the Iglesia ni Cristo on statements made by him. An example was when Soriano was asking for 3.6 million on January 10, 2004; the mangled tape was shown in Ang Tamang Daan aired over Net 25 on March 29, 2004 that Soriano was asking for 6 trillion.

A discussion of these can be found in the court records of Criminal Case No. Q-05-136679 filed for libel for an Ang Dating Daan TV program aired on January 21, 2005 with Ramil T. Parba as representative complainant of the Iglesia ni Cristo along with Marianito Cayao and Bernardo Santiago.

Accused were Eliseo Soriano, Danilo Navales, Jocel Mallari, and Luzviminda Cruz, all anchors of Ang Dating Daan program on TV. This libel case was dismissed for lack of evidence. Cayao and Santiago are former members of MCGI having been excommunicated by Bro. Eli and then later joined the INC. What the MCGI throws away for spiritual filth, the INC accepts.

INC hates dissent. It also explains why Lydia Manuyag, former INC auditor from Central Diliman was straffed at her home for speaking in SBN21 where she had corrected Bro. Eli. The preacher was quoting the magazine, SAY, that Manalo is a billionaire. Trillionaire, said Manuyag, not billionaire. Afterwards their home was straffed. Lydia’s husband, also a former INC member, was hit with four bullets.

It also explains why Daniel Veridiano, Bernardo Santiago, Marianito Cayao and their kind who have been excommunicated by Bro. Eli for several offenses, have, in turn, been used against the preacher as either complainant or witness.

If media can be used against people especially the TV, it has not been forgotten that Soriano is a victim of this trick, which is why until now the Members Church of God International (MCGI) are boycotting GMA7-11. It is to send a strong message that it is not taking things sitting down. The dramatization in the interview with Daniel Veridiano in “Paninirang Puri, Case Unclosed” presented the Church leader as a shameless old man devoid of the knowledge of the Bible and hungry for sex – and for the same gender yet. The members were pictured as fools – laggards with the brain of a shrimp. This had been so after the Interpol caper has failed. Interpol whom the INC had access to, had found out that the Bro. Eli whom enemies wanted to humiliate before the world is not in hiding – and is even a man of God – not a sex-starved fugitive as the dramatization painted him to be.

The interviewee was Daniel Veridiano, excommunicated from MCGI where Soriano is Presiding Minister to. Veridiano became a member of the INC. By twist of faith, it is GMA being boycotted by MCGI for 5 years now for what they did to Bro. Eli and the organization. Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 22.18.36

What about GMA 7-11? Earlier, it had made Daniel Razon to decide whether to remain as anchor and restrict his language when referring to the Iglesia ni Cristo, or resign. If he does not like restrictions, the INC may boycott the station. Where? On stage when he preaches to the congregation of the MCGI or Ang Dating Daan (as the church is more popularly known). Razon is Soriano’s nephew and the appointed next-in-rank to Bro. Eli. At the same time, he was working for GMA. But he chose to leave GMA rather than restrict his language – not even in anchoring but in preaching in church.

Imagine GMA representing the INC and asking one to restrict his language – and in another venue yet? Why does INC use GMA to restrict one’s language outside of the studio that is the very workplace of Razon? Can’t he preach before the congregation without an outsider’s intervention? Why did religion have to involve a TV station?

The Australian Journalists’ Code of Ethics says in #8 rule:

Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.

There is an equivalent in the Code of Ethics of the Philippine Press Institute and the National Press Club of the Philippines in #5:

I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift, or other consideration of a nature that may cast doubt on my personal integrity.

INC hates being critiqued. That explains why the NBI had been used to raid the ADD Convention Center in 2001 on a simple charge of libel filed by the INC. The director at that time was Reynaldo Wycoco, an INC member. They came in full-battle gear looking for Bro. Eli whom they could not recognize though they talked to him. Wycoco was reported preparing another raid in 2005 when he succumbed to heart attack.

The MTRCB had suspended the Ang Dating Daan TV Program including all the anchors at least three times in the past at the behest of the Iglesia ni Cristo. One time, it was because Bro. Eli was calling them Iglesia ni Manalo that they took as insult.

BELOW: Thousands upon thousands of people gathered in front of the Human Rights Commission in the Philippines to show their support to Brother Eli when the latter was indefinitely suspended by the MTRCB from appearing in any television program. The Human Rights Commission later ruled in favor of Brother Eli stating that the MTRCB committed a grave abuse of authority against the preacher.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 21.57.49

The Department of Justice also through Secretary Raul Gonzalez had been utilized to persecute Bro. Eli.

A rape charge filed against him was dismissed as the investigating prosecutor found no probable cause to prosecute Soriano. The judge believed that Veridiano’s accusations were all lies and fabricated. Filed sometime before October 5, 2005, the case was dismissed on January 26, 2006. It was penned by Alexandro Lopez, Asst. Provincial Prosecutor and approved by Jesus Magarang, Provincial prosecutor, Province of Pampanga, San Fernando City. The case highly considered the rift going on between the INC and the ADD.

But the dismissed case was ordered re-filed by the Office of the President Gloria Arroyo, one widely known as supported by the INC through bloc voting.

Media People Talking

Why do we allow these things to happen? Columnist Conrad de Quiros, in exasperation, asked this question. He mentions about the INC’s habits of “trying to keep certain prominent citizens out of jail or, in the case of public officials, keeping them in power.” He also questions why we allow the Iglesia ni Cristo meddling in the justice department, and interfering in elections, among many others.

Here are excerpts from de Quiros’ column –

The INC has grown over the years to become the second biggest church in this country. You’ve got to wonder, though, what it is asking its fold to do. Over the same years it has grown, it has been trying to keep certain prominent citizens out of jail or, in the case of public officials, keeping them in power.

Not too long ago, the INC made headlines by railing against the government for axing Magtanggol Gatdula, the director of the National Bureau of Investigation and an INC stalwart. P-Noy himself did the axing after finding out that Gatdula had a hand in the illegal detention of a Japanese fugitive. Despite De Lima’s strenuous attestations that the justice department did its homework before recommending Gatdula’s dismissal, the INC complained that he was not given a chance to explain.

All of these must make us ask: Why do we allow this?

Why do we allow the INC to begin with to interfere in elections? We know that INC members vote as a bloc for the candidates of their leaders’ choosing. We know this because that church doesn’t bother to hide it; it parades it as one of the reasons for joining it or currying its favor….This is out-and-out flouting of the separation of Church and State, a thing expressly forbidden in a democracy. And yet we see no law stopping it, and yet we see only politicians seeking to profit from it.  (http://opinion.inquirer.net/29267/why-do-we-allow-this#ixzz3ilLClbI2)

It’s not only de Quiroz questioning the behavior of the INC as an organization. Here’s an excerpt from what Blogger Jake Astudillo wrote about INC power in government offices –

The morbid interest of the INC for critical posts in the national government is quite disturbing too and even the high courts of the land are not spared. The Supreme Court has some justices and other people therein known to have been highly recommended by the INC and cannot be said to be free from public perception of being stooges for the INC.

The same is true for the National Bureau of Investigation, and for other offices under the Office of the President. One of these is the Movies, Television, Radio Censors Board (MTRCB) where the INC cries to as its favored valid court every time their beliefs are being scrutinized. At least, that was the experience of Bro. Eli Soriano. Maria Consoliza Laguardia used to hold fort as head censor of the MTRCB and decides matters upon the behest of the INC.

Jake Astudillo mentioned Lawyer Panopio’s analysis, Reporter Romero’s observation, and Author Vitug’s book. Panopio had underscored INC’s influencing court litigation results; Romero and Vitug were aware of INC recommending justices where these justices decide in favor of the Iglesia ni Cristo once put into place. More from Astudillo –

Not everyone is cowered by the INC influence, however. An enterprising young lawyer found that unconstitutional powers are being interpreted as vested in the MTRCB. James Benedict Panopio, in his analysis of the MTRCB rulings on suspension of the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) programs on TV said the INC should seek redress in the courts instead of the MTRCB. It is not a secret that litigations are highly the interest of the INC where they try to influence results, one of which is the Barrameda case, he said. 

Purple S. Romero of Newsbreak took note that Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. of the Supreme Court is publicly known to have been highly recommended by the INC. Marites Vitug, in her book, Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court, gave the same observation. For three days after the publication of her book, Vitug was receiving death threats on her mobile phone.

And Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr? He was the ponente or decision writer or justice in charge of the case in the Supreme Court sustaining suspension of Ang Dating Daan upon the complaint of the Iglesia ni Cristo. “Political considerations may have come into play in the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the suspension of the religious group Ang Dating Daan’s TV program according to court insiders we talked to,” said Newsbreak reporters. In earlier reports, Newsbreak through Romero surmised that the ruling of the Supreme Court was to please the Iglesia ni Cristo. It was not exactly a legal reason, the report said. The report is interesting in that the dissenting justices pointed to suppression of the freedom of speech in their decision.

And Justice Velasco? Of all people, why did he not inhibit himself from the case, considering his links with the Iglesia ni Cristo? With just their endorsement, the message is clear: they expected someone to exchange favor with. And as venial as one can be, if your ambition is lying in wait for an invitation, you can be used and finally play the willing tool. But it takes two to tango.(https://kotawinters.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/are-we-now-going-to-give-the-country-to-bloc-voting-people/)

Familiar Patterns

These familiar patterns keep repeating themselves. Are we that weak to resist? Recent events with the INC and INC influence show the following:

1) Intervening with the Justice System

A recent news report stated that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has directed National Bureau of Investigation Director Virgilio Mendez to discipline an official who declared earlier that the bureau’s probe on the alleged abduction of 10 ministers of the influential Iglesia Ni Cristo was deemed closed. (http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/08/04/doj-iglesia-case-still-open/#

Written by Rey E. Requejo titled “DOJ: Iglesia case still open”(Manila Standard, 8/04/2015), De Lima was said to have made the statement reiterating that the authorities are still investigating the supposed abduction of INC ministers. This was in contrast to the claim of NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division chief Manuel Eduarte that the case is now considered closed.

De Lima was reportedly surprised said Eduarte had declared the case was closed when he is not even involved in the investigation nor part of the team.

A check into records show that Eduarte is a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Not long after, The Daily Tribune came out with “Binay asks De Lima to stop ‘reckless’ statements vs INC” (Tribune Wires, 8/07/2015) (http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/binay-asks-de-lima-to-stop-reckless-statements-vs-inc)

The report said Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay had advised Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to refrain from giving “unwarranted statements” on the alleged abduction of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) ministers.

In a letter to De Lima, the Vice President said he felt compelled to “call your attention to the unwarranted statements you have been expressing in the mass media in your capacity as Secretary of the Department of Justice asserting that the alleged abduction of ministers of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) is not yet a ‘closed’ case.”

Binay reportedly noted that De Lima’s statements contradicted the findings of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) authorities that conducted the investigation.

“It taxes credulity that you had to publicly contravene the findings of the NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crimes Division, which itself conducted the investigation on the alleged abduction,” the Vice President said.

“According to your own people in the NBI, no such abduction took place, which finding is bolstered by the fact that there is no complainant who has come forward to attest to its commission. In short, there is apparently no crime committed or being committed,” he added.

If there was no abduction that happened, why are there many complaining from diverse places? Would it hurt to check if there are? What is the hurry in Manuel Eduarte in trying to close the lid and in Binay pressuring the DOJ Secretary if there are lives involved?

2) Riding on one-sided media for personal agenda

The Daily Tribune is also the one that reported earlier on Jose Norelito Fruto, 50, of Amparo Road, Nova Ville Subdivision, Novaliches in “Bogus gay doctor apprehended for molesting Caloocan student” by Arlie O. Calalo (The Daily Tribune, 07/14/2015).

Fruto was one of the INC ministers picked up earlier for questioning regarding the Antonio Ebanghelista blogs that blared corruption issues within the Iglesia ni Cristo.

The report said a 22 year old man (Robert Anthony, not real name) was allegedly sodomized by Fruto and that a CCTV tape showed at least the first of two incidents, the first one (July 4) inside the victim’s house, and the second one inside Fruto’s home.

This Daily Tribune report was used by the INC against Fruto as the “proof” to truth, just as they used it against Justice De Lima. It is clear that The Daily Tribune is not as popular as other broadsheets. The comments are scanty and are lorded over by INC members who spam the same comments over and over.

In the case where Binay berated Justice Secretary De Lima whose group is trying to look into reports of abduction, media was also used in impressing to the public which case is closed or unclosed.

3) Promoting lying and falsehood

Letters posted on Social Media by those expelled show that they were being forced to do things against their conscience. Here’s one written by Joven O. Sepillo Sr –

On July 18, 2015, my name was written in social media as one among those ministers who were abducted and could not be seen. We told our contacts that we are safe and not abducted. My family were wondering why my name was included there when we are just silently doing our responsibilities in the Locale of San Roque in Tolosa Extension, Leyte East District. Who could have done that and what was his aim?

On July 21, I was made to produce a video and say, “I am INC.” I cooperated and did the video according to the order of Bro. Rommel Sanvictores of INCTV and then sent it through email. My family felt safe then that when the video will be shown, it will be clear that I was not abducted and that I won’t be missing but will be found doing my work. When July 24, 2015 came, I welcomed the order from Central to make another video together with the brethren from the Locale with all of us saying,” All of us with responsibilities and all the brethren of the Locale of San Roque, Ecclesiastical District of Leyte East are proclaiming that we are fervently following doctrines and are submitting to obedience so that we will be saved.” Then we would greet Happy 101st Anniversary to the Iglesia ni Cristo. 

Upon arrival at the San Roque Locale, I found the brethren already gathered by the Head Deacon based on the order of the District and there was the Video man. It was not a day for Worship Service at San Roque, but the video would show that the service was just over. At that moment, I decided not to make the [second] video because, first I had already made one last July 21, 2015 as proof that I was not abducted. Second, the brethren already knew on July 23, 2015 about the call from Ka Tenny and Ka Angel, and because of that, they will be asking questions like what is happening with the church.

The following day, July 24, 2015, came the reading of the Circular pertaining to the family of Ka Erdy. I have read that Circular concerning the expulsion in the Worship Service at Tolosa Extension, but I felt so hurt that it has come to this. I could not anymore take it that after reading about the expulsion of the family, they would order me to proclaim fervent obedience and submission to the Administration – and with that I had to involve even the brethren!” (See post by Jorge. (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/711261/doj-secures-3-expelled-iglesia-ni-cristo-members).

4) Threatening the lives of those who leave their religion or dis-agree with them.

These are lines from a report titled, “Iglesia ni Cristo expels members who joined protest in US (Coconuts Manila, 8/06/2015) –

According to another expelled INC member who was at the rally, fears of retaliation from the church against protesters were heightened a week later after gunshots were fired at his home. (http://manila.coconuts.co/2015/08/07/iglesia-ni-cristo-expels-members-who-joined-protest-us).

The members clearly know about killing being a part of the culture of the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Recently, Joy Yuson, one of the expelled ministers said in the vernacular, “We have to be careful. If they find us on the way, they will kill us. They may run over us, hold us up, kill or trace our steps to home.” (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/08/06/15/witnesses-vs-inc-placed-under-witness-protection-program).

According to ABS-CBN News, expelled INC Minister Joy Yuson had allegedly received information that the INC has a private army of 100 people that can strike any time. His companions also had other information –

“[Roel] Rosal, who used to work for the New Bilibid Prisons, told De Lima that INC can release inmates from prison, while [Lito] Fruto said an assistant state prosecutor from the justice department was involved in the arrest of one of the ‘missing’ INC ministers, Lowell Menorca, as well as in framing him up for a charge of rape.”

Yuson, Fruto, and Rosal are former members of INC who were expelled from the church after expressing support to the family of the late executive minister Eraño Manalo. (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/08/06/15/witnesses-vs-inc-placed-under-witness-protection-program).

These reports need verification, and if true, should be addressed by proper government authorities.

  1. No Mercy

A church is supposed to be the very first example in showing how character is supposed to be developed in a vibrant community. It may be none of people’s business questioning how a son can tolerate not talking to a mother for five years. But it has become public that the mother of Eduardo Manalo, Executive Minister of the INC, had wanted to talk to her son. Wasn’t she claiming her life was in danger together with the others? She was expelled from the organization in a show of force with the INC leadership claiming Ka Tenny and the rest of the family were creating division in the church. Farley de Castro, one of those expelled ministers claimed the widow of Eraño Manalo is more than 80 years old and is ill.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 22.08.03

The Public is Watching: One-Sided Media

The Daily Tribune was decidedly one-sided. It did not mention earlier reports that De Lima had wanted the erring NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division chief Manuel Eduarte who said that the case is now considered closed to be sanctioned.

The Daily Tribune is obviously one of creating news instead of being a news courier. A good story would present both sides.

There is a tendency now for journalists to create news. And that is completely wrong. Journalists have a responsibility to report the news and comment upon the news. But they don’t have the right to create news. (Oscar R. Landicho, “Ethics in Journalism,” Booklore Publishing Corporation, Mla: 2002).

Indeed, what our country needs are good and honest journalists who can tell us what our people need or what is wrong with some government officials including judges and justices.

A look into a description of this paper says –

The Daily Tribune is a daily English-language broadsheet publication in the Philippines. Its office is in the 1st Floor of the Bel-Air Apartments along Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Its editor-in-chief is Ninez Cacho-Olivares. The Tribune is known for being critical of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her successor, Benigno S. Aquino III; conversely, it is often cited as supporting former President Joseph Estrada (now Mayor of Manila) and Vice President Jejomar Binay. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Tribune).

As a politician who has declared running for President as early as 2010, Binay, in his act of throwing down the gauntlet for the Iglesia ni Cristo is suspect. First, the INC’s practice of coercive bloc voting is a magnet for many politicians to woe the INC’s favor, ignoring the negative effect on the voters.

Second, the INC has been embroiled in controversy and has occupied the news spots in the recent months. But The Daily Tribune shows no indication of knowing anything before hand, as their reports reflected nothing of the other side.

What’s with a news outfit that cannot be objective? A journalist can do his job if his hands are free of bribes. Lest we be seen as imputing anything, there are many things aside from money that can corrupt a journalist: gadgets, electrical appliances, cars, free gasoline, gift vouchers in some department stores, free trips, free meals and drinks. Take that from a seasoned journalist like Oscar Landicho.

Here’s an excerpt from Landicho’s (2002) chapter on Envelopmental Journalism –

Only in the Philippines is ‘envelopmental journalism’ practiced with notoriety and frequency. Envelopmental journalism is not only illegal but also unethical. People who promote envelopmental journalism are peddlers of corruption, dishonesty, and immorality. Some journalists are … in the payroll of some politicians and businessmen.

The report on extensive lecture of Vice President Binay on DOJ Secretary De Lima is not balanced sans just one-liner saying Manuel Eduarte was not involved in the project of ascertaining abduction of INC ministers, or that De Lima was surprised on Eduarte’s “Case Closed” pronouncement. Instead, Binay was marking that Eduarte is a lawyer – as if being lawyer is equivalent to being honest and correct.

What citizens can do for now are the following: 1) Watch for wayward media and expose them; and 2) Watch the moves of politicians and expose them.

The Public is Watching: Politician’s Pressure

An evaluation of Binay’s motherland statements manifests an over-representation of this politician in the absence of a report on De Lima’s stance. He was clearly standing for Manuel Eduarte – someone not involved with the case – or even for the INC. This group is widely known to be influential with a reputation of actively lobbying to be able to place their own people in sensitive positions of the government.

From The Daily Tribune

“By your actuations, you are promoting the image of disunity, discord and even corruption in the INC to its clear prejudice and detriment,” Binay said.

“As public officials, it is our duty to respect the internal affairs and concerns of the INC and allow them, without the unwarranted interference from government, to conduct their own business in accordance with their religious beliefs. No less than our Constitution guarantees this inviolable separation of church and state,” he added.

“For the sake of upholding our Constitution, as well as protecting the integrity and good name of the INC as a religious community, I urge you to refrain from uttering baseless, if not reckless and irresponsible, statements that would tend to harm the religious institution of the INC,” Binay said. (http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/binay-asks-de-lima-to-stop-reckless-statements-vs-inc)

Binay might not know it but it is the very ministers of the INC running for their lives who had requested for government intervention. Isaias Samson Jr. at a press conference held in July 23, said that government intervention in the crisis would help resolve the issue. Samson is one of those expelled INC ministers. (Tetch Torres-Tupas, “INC crisis: Suspended minister urges gov’t intervention”Inquirer.net. 7/23/2015).

Samson claimed that the INC was after him because of he had opposed INC general auditor Glicerio Santos Jr. According to reports, he was also accused of being the man behind the blog of Antonio Ebangelista, who has released critical articles against the group. (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/707346/minister-detained-by-armed-guards-escapes-corrupt-inc-practices-bared).

The 1987 Constitution of The Republic of the Philippines in Article III Bill of Rights is enough cover for those running for their lives from the powerful.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 22.10.51Consider this: Binay, a candidate for President in 2016, pitches for a religion that is publicly known as influential, but he does not feel for those individuals in it being abducted and reporting fear for their very lives.

The fact is that the INC does not need protection because it is very powerful – unlike individuals in them being threatened after exposing anomalies in their organization.

The right to life, liberty and the protection of the laws is guaranteed by the constitution. It is the right of citizens to be protected and secure in their persons.

The least that Vice President Binay could have done is not to contribute to the INC cover-up – unless he is a willing tool and has become part of these familiar patterns. Politicians are well-entrenched in these practices of the INC having become stooges or willing to become one.

A bird of the same feather knows its kind. It is time for everyone to choose whom to side with: the good or the evil.

 

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Questions on the History of the Rosary

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (March 28, 2015) – Without our knowing it, billions have been fooled by just a bead counter being linked to salvation if used as a form of prayer. How did this come about? How could this be possible with our supposed knowledge from the universities? Many have figured into this lie: books, dreamers, popes and a bead counter. The Bible claims there is such a thing as minds being blinded by the god of this world. That is the only explanation.

The Secret of the Rosary is about the Rosary written by a French priest in the 17th Century. The translation of this Catholic saint’s book in English (The Secret of the Rosary, Tan Books & Publisher, 1976) bears the imprimatur of Archbishop Thomas E. Molloy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Booklyn.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 15.49.49

Louis De Montfort, the author and a Catholic saint later, clearly ascribes power to the rosary, a created thing, for as blared by him and then by his proponents it can mean salvation of one’s soul if instructions are followed. At the same time, it can be calamitous if the rosary is not respected –

The advice to priests about using the Rosary to save sinners directly relates to the advice given to sinners on how to use the Rosary for salvation. This theme continues throughout the book, each Rose gently leading to another, in the process gradually revealing various “secrets” on how to approach the Rosary, how to recite and how to use it for optimal spiritual benefits. (http://en.wikipedia.org).

HISTORY OF THE ROSARY

Some sources expose the sham or falseness of this Rosary affair. The exact origin of the Rosary is subject to debate among scholars according to Herbert Thurston and Andrew Shipman (“The Rosary.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912).

Meanwhile, John D. Miller traces the repetitious feature of the rosary that involves praying with beads to have come from the practice of monks praying 150 psalms daily. Since many of the laity and monastics could not read, 150 repetitions of the Our Father (Pater noster in Latin) took the place of Psalms. (Beads and Prayers: The Rosary in History and Devotion, 2002, pp. 7-15). A cord with knots was used to keep count as discussed by Thurston and Shipman. It appears now that the knots are only necessary to facilitate remembering how many repetitions were made.

Where did the Rosary come from and what was the objective?

John D. Miller cites tradition as saying the rosary was given to a Saint Dominic in an apparition by the Virgin Mary in the year 1214 in the church of Prouille  (Beads and Prayers: The Rosary in History and Devotion, 2002). This apparition received the title of Our Lady of the Rosary (Catherine Beebe, Dominic and the Rosary). Subsequently, the practice of praying with beads or knots for counting became institutionalized in the Roman Catholic Church. However, the writings of Thurston and Shipman in The Catholic Encyclopedia question the claim of Alanus linking the rosary to Dominic primarily because of their separation in age by more than two centuries.

In the 15th century Alunus de Rupe (aka Alain de la Roche or Saint Alan of the Rock), who was a learned Dominican priest and theologian, is said to have received a vision from Jesus about the urgency of reinstating the rosary as a form of prayer. Blessed Alanus de Rupe also received the Blessed Mother’s “15 Promises.” Before his death on Sept. 8, 1475 he reinstituted the rosary in many countries and established many rosary confraternities.

Despite the popularity of Blessed Alanus’s story about the origins of the rosary, there has never been found any historical evidence positively linking St. Dominic to the rosary. The story of St. Dominic’s devotion to the rosary and supposed apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary does not appear in any documents of the Church or Dominican Order prior to the writings of Blessed Alanus. Dominic and Blessed Alanus are separated by 250 years (http://en.wikipedia.org).

From these accounts, it is therefore safe to say it was this Alanus who perpetuated the supposed power of the Rosary – effectively but erroneously assigning authority of God to Mary, shifting the focus of needing to do good to repeating empty words with these beads. Take a look into these supposed promises that Alanus claimed he received from Jesus in a vision. (http://www.olrm.org.au). An Imprimatur (which simply means “let it be printed”) was granted to the Fifteen Mysteries by Cardinal Patrick J. Hayes, the then Archbishop of New York.

Fifteen Promises of Mary (Referred to as “Fifteen Mysteries” by Archbishop Hayes)

  • 1) Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the rosary, shall receive signal graces.
  • 2) I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the rosary.
  • 3) The rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
  • 4) It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the heart of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  • 5) The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the rosary shall not perish.
  • 6) Whoever shall recite the rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
  • 7) Whoever shall have a true devotion for the rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
  • 8) Those who are faithful to recite the rosary shall have, during their life and at their death, the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
  • 9) I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the rosary.
  • 10) The faithful children of the rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.
  • 11) You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the rosary.
  • 12) All those who propagate the holy rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
  • 13) I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
  • 14) All who recite the rosary are my sons, and brothers of my only son Jesus Christ.
  • 15) Devotion of my rosary is a great sign of predestination.

QUESTIONS: In this vision that Alanus, a Dominican priest and theologian, is said to have “received from Jesus about the urgency of reinstating the rosary as a form of prayer” (Miller, 2002), isn’t this presenting a hierarchy of power that Mary – a human being – is being endorsed by Jesus (Son of God), and therefore a god, to be venerated? If so, isn’t Jesus therefore being made to endorse idolatry? How does Alanus account for the fact that between Dominic and him, there is an expanse of 250 years and nothing is said in the records of the Church or Dominican records before him about Dominic being visited by Mary and giving a rosary? Since Alanus claimed to have received the 15 promises of the Rosary, why did it take Jesus and not Mary to give those to him?

In sum, we trace now this rosary thing from Dominican Priest Alanus de Rupe, the dreamer, to Cardinal Patrick J. Hayes, the imprimatur- giver that rosary-praying, together with its woven lies unnecessarily involving Mary becomes instituted in the Roman Catholic Church without nary a question from its believers. Power is maliciously assigned to a mere bead counter, and people are fooled while unnecessarily courting the wrath of God for this idolatry. Every line in the supposed 15 promises of the rosary mentions the word “rosary” including #4 where the pronoun, “it” refers to the rosary. How did this happen if not for the folly of fools? How could salvation be pegged on a bead counter with the supposed prayer man reduced to an acrobat and bowing to idols?

The spread of the Rosary is attributed to the preaching of St. Dominic according to the Catholic Encylopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913) and as written by William Saunders, “History of the Rosary,” Eternal Word Television Network.

For centuries, the Rosary has been at the heart of the Dominican Order. It was Pope Pius XI who said, “The Rosary of Mary is the principle and foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others.” This was expressed by Robert Feeney in “St. Dominic and the Rosary,” Catholic.net (2008). Dominicans then have been instrumental in spreading the rosary and emphasizing the Catholic belief in the power of the Rosary.(History of Dominicans. 2014. Dominican Shrine of St. Jude, New Priory Press).

But who is this Dominic? This Catholic saint is also known as Dominic of Osma and Dominic of Caleruega, often called Dominic de Guzmán and Domingo Félix de Guzmán (1170 – August 6, 1221). He was a Spanish priest and founder of the Dominican Order (http://en.wikipedia.org).

Jean Guiraud, in his book, “Saint Dominic” (1909, London: Duckworth, 216pp), gives the most comprehensive account about Dominic (https://archive.org/stream/saintdominic00guirrich/saintdominic00guirrich_djvu.txt). On page 11 dealing with the topic, Childhood and Youth, Guiraud says the biographers of Dominic have been able to obtain little data for this period. Then on the subject of Rosary, he hedges somewhat because of “lack of scientific certainties.

Alain de la Roche and, following upon him, Jean de Rechac and Baillet… by dint of collecting together worthless legends, have constructed a fabulous life of St Dominic. According to these writers, those nine years had been devoted by him to missions; he had travelled over several provinces of Spain, preaching against Saracens and heretics, and had even, not far from St James of Compostella, fallen into the hands of pirates. Borne away by sea into captivity he had stilled the violence of a tempest; and by virtue of the Rosary, of which he had just received the revelation, had made converts of the crew. Restored to liberty, he had carried his wanderings further still, had preached devotion to the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary.

Take note now of the author’s footnote about omitting the rosary origin –

We purposely omit in this biography any account of the origin of the Rosary or of any efforts of the saint to further this devotion. It is a question more and more contested, since the serious doubts thrown out during the last century by the Bollandists {cf. Acta Sanctorum, 4th August); while a biography of the present nature should deal only with scientific certainties.

Did Dominic really receive a rosary from the Virgin Mary? And who are Bollandists? As defined Bollandists are “an association of scholars, philologists, and historians (originally all Jesuits, but now including non-Jesuits) who since the early seventeenth century have studied hagiography and the cult of the saints in Christianity.” Bollandists, therefore, are a good help to research because they evaluate claims.

Back to “Saint Dominic” by Jean Guiraud, Page 12 reflects –

Sustained by divine grace he had, in the course of these apostolic journeys, made numerous important conversions…. An examination, however superficial, of these stories, suffices to prove their mythical character, teeming as they do with anachronisms and improbabilities…. Far from travelling over Christendom and preaching the Rosary to the wondering peoples of Spain and Brittany, St Dominic, during these nine years, says Jordan [of Saxony] rarely went beyond the precincts of his monastery.

What did Dominic receive? This account also tells about contests of Catholic religious orders and how lying is used to institutionalize beliefs yet false.

… In their natural desire to make their own Orders participate in the glory of St Dominic, certain monastic writers have made the saint sojourn in convents belonging to them and even make his religious profession there. According to Denys the Carthusian, St Dominic, on his way to Citeaux, visited the monastery of the Grande Chartreuse, in order there to become a monk; but the prior, filled with a spirit of prophecy, refused to profess him, saying: “Go, you are reserved for mightier things,” and giving him the mission of preaching against the Albigenses.

According to other writers, it was St Bernard’s habit that was received by St Dominic, at the same time as his bishop…. (Giraud, 1909).

Fighting with the Albigenses clearly started this rosary thing. It was a fight of faith, but a fight that blinded the mind. From faith in God, faith was shunted to faith on a piece of counter. It appears the rosary-adherents had won over the non-rosary people in the 20-year war, but it does not necessarily mean they are in the truth.

Records claim Albigenses or Albigensians are actually the medieval Christian sect of the Cathars. According to history, these people created a reform movement within the churches of Dalmatia and Bulgaria calling for a return to “the Christian message of perfection, poverty and preaching.” They became known as the Albigensians because there were many adherents in the City of Albi and the surrounding area. Records show Pope Innocent III initiated the Albigensian Crusade or Cathar Crusade (1209–1229), a 20-year military campaign to eliminate Catharism in Languedoc, south of France. These are how they were different: they criticised the beliefs of the rosary people –

The Cathar understanding of God was entirely disincarnate: they viewed God as a being or principle of pure spirit and completely unsullied by the taint of matter. He was the God of love, order and peace. The goal of a Cathar was to become perfect.

Cathar missionaries would point out examples of clerical immorality and would contrast that behaviour with the uprightness of their own actions. They paid special attention to grievances the people of the south held against the French kings, and promoted a local sense of nationalism and independence. Thus, the religious movement became political. Both church and state were deeply concerned at the spread of Cathar teachings (http://en.wikipedia.org).

Accounts cite Dominic of Osma often called Dominic de Guzmán and Domingo Félix de Guzmán as an inquisitor – one insisting his Roman Catholic religion on others otherwise they get burned! Jean Guiraud on the topic of Saint Dominic and the Albingenses (p.37) quoting Bernard Guidonis (Catalogus Romanorum Pontificuni. Duchesne, Hist. Franc, vol. v. p. 768) writes –

The Dominican historian Malvenda, so late as the seventeenth century, did not hesitate to claim for the founder of his Order the glory of having established the Inquisition and delivered up heretics.

Guiraud calls Dominic “the precursor of Torquemada.” The dictionary points to Tor·que·ma·da  (tôr′kə-mä′də, tôr′kĕ-mä′thä) as Tomás de Torquemada (1420-1498), a Spanish Dominican friar who headed the Spanish Inquisition (1483-1498). “Under his authority thousands of people, many of them descendants of Jewish or Muslim converts to Christianity, were tortured and executed for apostasy and heresy.” That’s what the dictionary says of Torquemada – and supposedly Dominic came before him, but he was like the later in all counts.

Guiraud quotes from Lacordaire (Vie de Saint Dominique, p. 117) and the Bollandists {Acta SS., 4th August) and by Echard {Script, Ord. Prcedic). As an inquisitor, Dominic, the representative of the Holy See is thus –

Certain heretics having been taken and convicted in the country of Toulouse, were delivered over to the secular court, because they refused to return to the faith, and were condemned to be burnt. Dominic, looking upon one of them with a heart initiated into the secrets of God, said to the officers of the court: “Set this one apart, and take heed not to burn him.” Then turning with great gentleness towards the heretic, “I know, my son,” he said to him, that you need time, but that in the end you will become good and holy.”

Comparing with all these documents the canon of the Council of Verona, renewed in 1208 by the Council of Avignon, which orders that apostates who, after being convicted of heresy by their bishops or their representatives, should obstinately persist in their errors, should be delivered over to the secular arm, it would seem that it must be concluded that, by virtue of the delegated authority of the Cistercian monks, St Dominic was to convict the heretics; and that, in convicting them, he delivered them up, indirectly but surely, to execution….

Inquisitor or not, Dominic is clearly unwittingly connected with the rosary thing just as Mary is unnecessarily involved in it. Montfort’s account in Secret of the Rosary mentions Dominic as the receiver and Mary the giver, but he does more by backing up the story of Alanus and his 15 Promises (http://www.rosary-center.org/secret.htm) as he writes –

[The Rosary] was given to the Church by Saint Dominic who had received it from the Blessed Virgin as a powerful means of converting the Albigensians and other sinners.

I will tell you the story of how he received it, which is found in the very well known book “De Dignitate Psalterii” by Blessed Alan de la Roche [1]. Saint Dominic, seeing that the gravity of people’s sins was hindering the conversion of the Albigensians, withdrew into a forest near Toulouse where he prayed unceasingly for three days and three nights. During this time he did nothing but weep and do harsh penances in order to appease the anger of Almighty God. He used his discipline so much that his body was lacerated, and finally he fell into a coma.

At this point Our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by three angels, and she said: “Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?”

“Oh, my Lady,” answered Saint Dominic, “you know far better than I do because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation.”

Then Our Lady replied: “I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter.”

And so goes that rosary thing with Mary used as authority. More lies are written in the “Secret of the Rosary” mentioning how Alanus also received three important “revelations.” But he is merely quoting Alanus. Consider that these are seriously false, and they are more of threats. Catholic Saint Montfort quotes this other Catholic saint on supposed three revelations –

The first, that if people fail to say the Hail Mary (the Angelic Salutation which has saved the world) out of carelessness, or because they hate it, this is a sign that they will probably and indeed shortly be condemned to eternal punishment.

The second truth is that those who love this divine salutation bear the very special stamp of predestination.

The third is that those to whom God has given the signal of grace of loving Our Lady and of serving her out of love must take very great care to continue to love and serve her until the time when she shall have had them place in heaven by her divine Son in the degree of glory which they have earned. (Blessed Alan, chapter XI, paragraph 2).

In other words, people are told to believe in the power of the Rosary or they are damned! What a blatant lie: assigning the power of God to some people’s invention and then hitch Mary to it!

And so it is that lies were knitted together to make up a fabric of deception. Through it, people have been drugged into idolising another god in the form of Mary, the supposed Mother of God. But the Bible says nothing about Mary needing to be worshipped; it says nothing about her appearing again and again in visions. Nor is she named Mother of God (See http://www.ControversyExtraordinary.com). Mary while alive was very humble. Would she now rise from the dead and claim some power, promise salvation through a mere bead of repeated incantations?

In sum, here’s this simple cord used as a counter. It has knots to allow completing repeated prayers. But this requires worshipping Mary, a human being like we are. This bead counter is said to have been given to a Dominican priest but whose life story does not include anything about this rosary thing. So a book (Montfort’s “Secret of the Rosary”) is written and advances further that the roses story includes power. This time another character named Alanus is said to have received the Blessed Mother’s “15 Promises” if the rosary is used frequently.

And how did Alanus come to know about these promises? Records point out that there are 250 years gap between Alanus and Dominic. With the story of Alanus, the plot gets thicker and the belief on the Rosary as source of salvation gets more adhesive. To make it more binding, Cardinal Patrick J. Hayes, the Archbishop of New York that time orders the printing of those 15 so-called mysteries, and anyone is said to be free to believe them or not. Finally, Pope Pius XI declares that praying the Rosary is how salvation is obtained.

Such is the sad story about roses woven with lies and buttered with books of fools and supposed saints to promise tricky salvation to poor people – at the expense of Mary who is lying quietly in her grave. Many centuries have passed with such abuse on Mary where she has nothing to do with it. Meanwhile, popes exploit the situation to hide their ignorance of the Bible while people believe in them.

What about salvation that this roses story has stolen?

More yet, who can answer for these lies?

 

 

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Court Acquits ADD “Eternal Life” Discussants from Libel Charge

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (3/16//2015) – This court acquittal marks another victory for MCGI on the lot of libel cases filed by the Iglesia ni Cristo against the former’s ministers. A topic on “Eternal Life” led two panelists of the Ang Dating Daan TV program discussing news items mentioning Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) members as killers. Eternal life would not accommodate such people, they concluded.

Joselito Mallari and Wilfredo Santiago were commenting on three news items published in three local newspapers in their TV program. As a result the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) represented by Bienvenido C. Santiago filed charges against them on March 31, 2004 for the crime of libel. The court, however, acquitted these Ang Dating Daan TV panelists recently.

In a 13-page decision penned by Presiding Judge Manuel B. Sta. Cruz, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court, NCJR, Branch 226 for Criminal Case No. QO4-126059, Joselito “Josel” Mallari and Wilfredo “Willy” Santiago are acquitted of the crime of Libel for failure of the prosecution to prove all the elements of the crime charged, thus failing to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 21.48.57

To be able to successfully prosecute the crime of Libel, the court said the complainant must prove the existence of the following elements:

  • The allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another;
  • Publication of the charge;
  • Identity of the person defamed; and
  • Existence of malice.

In part, the court said –

The alleged libelous remarks were made by the accused as panelists in the TV program “Ang Dating Daan.” This court notes the remarks were made in the context of explaining the teachings of their religion on the popular topic of “eternal life.” Although it may be argued that some of the members of the Iglesia ni Cristo were offended by the remarks, especially when the news clippings of the murders allegedly committed by individual members of the INC members were shown on the screen, this court rules that this alone does not make the remarks of the accused actionable by itself.

The court further said –

As with all other members of the various religious faith, an individual member of the INC has a reputation that is personal, separate and distinct in the community and it is highly unlikely that one’s personal reputation will be affected by what is seen and heard or published about the other INC members. It is also improbable that the INC community’s reputation, as a whole, will be blemished by these isolated acts imputed to some of its members…

The judgment quoted the Supreme Court stressing in MVRS Publications, Inc. vs. Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines that “words which are merely insulting are not actionable as libel or slander per se, and mere words of general abuse, however opprobrious, ill-natured, or vexatious, whether written or spoken, do not constitute a basis for an action for defamation in the absence of an allegation for special damages.”

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Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) is the longest running religious program in the country hosted by Bro. Eli Soriano, the Presiding Minister to the Members Church of God, International (MCGI). It has won several local and international awards. At the time of the filing of the case, ADD and the Iglesia ni Cristo were having a running debate centered on their teachings wherein each side tries to defend their teachings. The remarks being contested in this case were allegedly made by the accused on or about April 22, 2003 during the program of Ang Dating Daan at SBN21.

The court said the news items the panelists discussed were: a) People’s Journal, “INC minister shoots farmer dead,” dated July 24, 1996; b) People’s Tonight, “3 Iglesia-Vigilantes nabbed for beheading, roasting 2 men,” and c) Abante, “Ministro Namaril.”

The remarks include, as translated in English, “Do you know of churches that kill? Do they have eternal life?”

“Aha, you see that? He already killed him yet roasted him! Ministro Namaril (Minister Killed Someone). Whatever church that is, those inflicted with that kind of malady, cannot be granted with eternal life. As long as you are a murderer …. my countrymen, do not believe that a murderer is of God and has eternal life.”

The complaint accused these panelists of “intending to convey malicious and offensive insinuations and imputations that are destructive and tends to destroy the name and reputation of the Iglesia ni Cristo with no good justifiable motive but solely for the purposes of maligning, besmirching the name, honor, character and reputation of said offended party and to expose them as in fact they were exposed to public hatred and ridicule to their damage and prejudice.”

MCGI Minister Mallari, one of the accused, is now based outside the country. Defense witness Emilio T. Magdaraog then issued a judicial affidavit. He said the purpose of airing Ang Dating Daan and its related programs like Itanong mo kay Soriano (Ask Soriano, the Bible will Answer) is to spread the word of God according to what is written in the Bible and to have people lead a new life. As translated, he added, “This includes exposing and castigating religions that do evil but introduce themselves as they alone are of God and it is they alone that will be saved.”

Magdaraog is also a Minister for MCGI. Speaking for Mallari, he said in his judicial affidavit that Mallari was speaking in general terms. He was referring to “any religion that agrees and gives consent to killing their members but declares to the public that they alone are the ones who are of God and they alone are the only ones to be saved.” Speaking still in the vernacular, Magdaraog said, “It is clear that the Bible teaches that there is no salvation for killers or murderers. As ministers we are taught to speak the truth, no matter if some will be happy or angry at us.”

This is not the first time libel cases were filed by Bienvenido Santiago as private complainant or representative of the Iglesia ni Cristo against panelists of Ang Dating Daan TV. Fortunately, the courts have acquitted the accused in several libel cases in the years ahead for lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, Wilfredo Santiago, who was Bro. Eli’s Bible Reader, was separated from MCGI in 2009 (five years after the filing of this case) after a frustrated ambition to become minister. Willy had put up his own church group trying to mimic doctrines he learned while at MCGI and infusing them with his own understanding. Failing to muster even a hundred members, he still called his group “worldwide” in an effort to mimic MCGI and be another “Bro. Eli.” Unfortunately for him, those he had taken away have been sending feelers for wanting to return to MCGI.

In this Libel case, filed in 2004 and finally judged this February 15, 2015, Willy was represented by a Public Affairs Office (PAO) lawyer. His co-accused, Mallari, had another counsel representing him.

 

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Trending Hashtag #Noynoyparin Report of News5: The Transcript

Photo Credits: Rappler.com

Photo Credits: Rappler.com

Manila, Philippines (2/21/2015) – The following is a transcript of conversations in the report of Lourd de Veryra titled “NOYNOYPARIN | NETIZENS, NAGPAHAYAG NG SUPORTA KAY PNOY,” uploaded on 2/18/2015 on their site. We are placing it here for readers to have a better grasp of what they said.

WARNING: The participants here are talking about online media sites and what is being done in those sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter. There are distinctions in these two social networking sites. Facebook is mostly free but it earns through posts, through boosting. Boosting means you pay so that your post (mostly news and ads) can reach more people. In Twitter, however, there is NO such thing as boosting. In Twitter, it is followers you can pay for – for wider reach of your posts or for vanity. But honest people like Bro. Eli Soriano depend mostly on Members of the Church of God International (MCGI) for followers. Add atheists and those of other religion interested in his posts, and that makes his followers – all unbought.

Preacher Soriano uses Twitter to teach mostly. He also uses Twitter to gather readers to his blog, http://www.ControversyExtraordinary.com. Just this one time, he used Twitter to voice out support for President Benigno Aquino. It has caught wildfire and surprise from media and the general public.

The participants here at News5 are giving their views. There is no direct accusation, and they are trying to make sense out of #Noynoyparin. But obviously they could not believe that the first twitter, Bro. Eli Soriano could muster wide support to rally his cause. Lourde de Veyra and his companions refer only to “netizens,” not realising that it  is MCGI or Ang Dating Daan people twitting and re-tweeting. Soriano has such extensive followers in Twitter (going 70K to date), considering that the organisation he leads is international. The evangelist openly twitted that he is behind the beleaguered President whom the Catholic Bishops wanted to step down due to failed leadership they attributed to the fallen SAF44.

But Soriano disagrees: He wanted the President to continue and finish his term. He also took note of these bishops’ unwarranted intervention in the government. The #Noynoyparin started by Bro. Eli reigned as the top hashtag for more than 5 days in a row beginning February 16.

And why the support for Aquino? In Gloria Arroyo’s time – the regime before Aquino’s – Soriano was rained upon with case after case by a group that Arroyo allowed to meddle in government affairs including in the justice system of the country. Aquino did not do such: he never favoured a religious group to lord it over in the courts. Soriano was then able to do propagation efforts unhampered.

Now, about suggestions of Malacanang being spin doctor to help Aquino, that is up to these people. A spin doctor is “a person (as a political aide) responsible for ensuring that others interpret an event from a particular point of view.” Sour grapes can be found just every where, and there must be a spin doctor they can point to. – Jane Abao

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Lourde De Veyra: Matapos na batikusin, bumabaha na ngayon ng suporta si Pangulong Noynoy Aquino. Nag-trending pa nga ang hashtag na #Noynoyparin. Unang nag-tweet ang religious leader na si Bro. Eli Soriano. Para sa kanya di tama na pababain sa pwesto si PNoy dahil dito sa usapin sa Maguindanao. Hindi naman daw nito ginusto ang nangyari. Sang-ayon naman sa kanya ang ibang netizens. Tanong pa nila, eh, makukuha ba natin ang katarungan at sagot kung bababa sa pwesto ang pangulo?

Ikinatuwa naman ng palasyo ang suportang natanggap ng Pangulo. Sa kabila niyan, isang kaalyado ni PNoy ang nagsabi, humina na ang kakayanan nitong mag-endorso ng susunod na presidente sa 2016. Pero, naniniwala si Speaker Sonny Belmonte na makakabawi pa rin ang Pangulo.

(Video Clips)

Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao: Our perception is that whoever is chosen by the president, siguro, we really have a very, very distinct advantage – whoever is supported by the president. But with this, the public perception is… Let us somehow deal [with it] a bit.

Rep. Sonny Belmonte: Let’s face it. As a politician, nakikita ko naman na up and down, up and down ang popularity ng mga tao depending on the issue of the day. Pero, wala naman akong duda na makakarecover din sya.

Lourde de Veyra: Ang tanong, repleksiyon ba ng nag-trend…. nagtrending? ng hashtag ang suporta ng mga Pinoy sa Pangulo?

Grace Lee: Nabasa ko nga rin yung mga naglabasang mga article …

Lourd de Veyra: Noynoy ka rin ba, Grace?

Grace Lee: I mean, ni-retweet ko ba? Naku, mahirap na sagutin yan. Kung ano naman ang sagot ko diyan, yes or no, alam mo ng lalabas sa mga di kanais-nais na mga websites sa alam mo na… pero sa akin, kahapon, sa social media, biglang naglabasan itong mga articles tungkol sa kung bakit gusto pa nila si Presidente. Bakit naniniwala pa sila sa kanila, at kung ano ang meron tayo  ngayon ay dahil sa kanya. At kung ano ang mawawala sa atin kung mawawala siya. So there are articles nga, trending also on Facebook yesterday and I read some of them. But para sa akin, ha, it seems a little bit too plaid. Ibig sabihin, parang… hindi.. halatang hindi… sincere. Mukhang…

Martin “Mart” Andanar:  May spin-doctor sa likod.

Grace Lee: Mukhang, it is a job that they were tasked to do. It didn’t touch the heart.

Martin “Mart” Andanar: It was too clean!

Grace Lee: Oo. Kasi talagang naka bullet points eh, nakita nyo ba? Naka bullet yung mga ginawa ni Pangulo. Tapos yung pinaka cover photo pa ng mga articles na yun, kung naalala nyo na binabatikos si Presidente na di siya gaanong nagtatrabaho katulad ni PGMA, at naglabas ang Malacanang na parang nagtatrabaho siya? O, yun yung litrato. So, tapos it didn’t give the right message. The picture and the way the article is written. So, ako, di ko in-expect na magti-trend ang #Noynoyparin just because of the articles.

Lourde de Veyra: They manufactured the trend. They can actually, artificially, manufacture the trend.

Grace Lee: Aha… lahat ng trending tungkol sa TV5 alam ko, genuine yun.

Martin “Mart” Andanar: Di naman chismis yung pwede kang magpa-trend. Totoo yan. There are people paid to do that. There are really people paid to do that. Add more trends or add more likes to your page… ganun.

Lourde de Veyra: Baka di nyo lang alam, mga tol, yung mga nagfa-Facebook diyan. Makikita nyo, may like, comment, share, may makikita ka rin dung “boost”. Yung “boost” na yun, sa halagang 3,000, may 20,000 o 30,000 na tao na may makakabasa nitong post mo, magbabayad ka ng credit card. May mga antas yan. Gusto mo ng ganito, pwede mong paabutin ng … sa isang milyong piso, ganito karaming taong makakabasa.

Martin “Mart” Andanar: Kaya nga sinasabi nila, Lourde, di ba, na yung Facebook, sa Twitter.. sa Twitter, you can do that. Also, you can place an ad on Twitter, eh yung kanilang business model, eh naging business model na rin ng telebisyon. Kung gusto mong maglabas ng produkto dun ng paulit-ulit, eh, you have to pay, kasi, ganun din sa Facebook. Magbabayad ka. Para gusto mong dumami yung manonood sa iyo.

Grace Lee: Parang ano nga siya eh… Recently, dahil sa isang negosyo, nag-post ako ng nag-post. Ang mahal ha! 20$ parang per boost.

Lourde de Veyra: It’s just a bucket for you.

Grace Lee: Grabe ka naman. Isipin mo kung gusto mong 1 week na tuluy-tuloy na ibo-boost niya everyday, grabe din yun ha! Umaabot ng more than 5,000 pesos.

Lourde de Veyra: Eh, billionaryo naman si Mark Zuckerberg. Teka muna, paano tayo napunta dito!

Grace Lee: May nagbo-boost nga daw ng hashtag….

Lourde de Veyra: Pinag-usapan talaga itong … siguro inisip nila or they contemplated another alternative. That dark alternative. Which is the words… yung kay Binay. Siguro weigh nila, ang daming kasong ibinabato kay Binay. Sino ba ang pwedeng pumalit dito?

Grace Lee: Di ba agad-agad na nag-komento, na walang power itong si Pinoy na mag endorse ng candidate for 2016, kaagad-agad? Sinabi agad ng kabilang kampo.

Martin “Mart” Andanar: Parang yung diskusyon ngayon, ng mga gustong pabagsakin ang gobyerno, iniisip nila ang bagong sistema etc, sino ba ang papalit? Binay? Ano ba ang gagawin ko kung di si Binay? Sino? Meron silang mga Transformation Council.. kung anu-ano…

Lourde de Veyra: Nakakatawa lang kasi ano, Mart, dahil sa social media, napaka instant ng gauging ng emotion, yung sa kainitan ng 44 issue, di ba, ang dali? Iharap mo yung celfone mo, may internet connection ka… bam! Bam! Bam! Ang celfone mo ang nagtatranslate. Di ka na nagkakaroon ng moment of reflection. Inis ka eh, so may mga hirit ka na ganun. Until in hindsight o humihina-hinahon na, nagkakaroon ka ng perspektiba sa mga issues. Siguro, napagisip-isip ng lahat, ang ayaw ko lang sa mga nag-isip nito…

Martin “Mart” Andanar: Sa Noynoyparin…

Lourde de Veyra: Itong Noynoyparin, isip-aso. Siguro mga bata ang nag-isip nito ano? Kasi kung mga 40 and above ka, maaalala mo yung Marcos pa rin. ]

Martin “Mart” Andanar: Parang ikaw!

Lourde de Veyra: Bata naman ako ng konti… mga 9 years old. Noon, “Marcos pa rin”  smacks of desperation. Yung mga 1986 na holding on to the last power. Yung illegitimately, sinasabi nila.

Martin “Mart” Andanar: Yung kay Cory naman, sobra na, tama na… yung slogan nila.

END.

Please refer to this video.

http://n5e.interaksyon.com/videos/7B88051F5E714C1/noynoyparin-netizens-nagpahayag-ng-suporta-kay-pnoy

 

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