Manila, Philippines (5/2/2014) – In two cases filed separately on two related incidents by members of the Iglesia ni Cristo against Eliseo Soriano, the evangelist won his second round of court case. The first case filed in Marikina City was for attempted murder and spoke of an incident on September 4, 2001; the second filed in San Mateo, Rizal was for libel and zeroed in on an incident, three days after.
Soriano, who is referred to as Bro. Eli by his constituents, is the Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God International (MCGI) or Ang Dating Daan as known by the public for its flagship radio-TV program. The evangelist is now based overseas in accordance with his antipodal direction of preaching.
In an eight-page decision penned by Josephine Zarate Fernandez, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 76 of San Mateo Rizal, TV Broadcaster Eliseo F. Soriano was acquitted of the charge of libel. The order signed on January 14, 2014 said that malice was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
According to Law, malice is one of the four elements of libel that must be sufficiently satisfied for the case to succeed. The three others include: the allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another, publication of the charge, identity of the person defamed, and existence of malice. The absence of anyone of these elements will not make the case prosper.
The case docketed as Criminal Case No. 5957 charged Soriano for the crime of libel as punished under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code. The complaint in part said that on the 7th day of September 2001, the evangelist, during his TV program in SBN21 located at Pasig city, uttered in particular, “Sabi nila sa akin, baka quack doctor yon, kaya galit sa akin (They told me, she may be a quack doctor and that is why she is mad at me.” Subject statement referred to Dr. Nancy Nakpil Pascua, the private complainant of the case, the decision said.
On September 4, 2001 or some three days immediately before the TV program wherein Soriano allegedly uttered that statement, Pascua happened to be found with some Iglesia ni Cristo members in the house of Dr. Alberto Jimenez and his wife who belonged to the congregation of the Ang Dating Daan. With them was Bernardo Santiago, one excommunicated by Soriano for adultery and then became a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo. As alleged by Witness Rolando Ocampo, this Bernardo Santiago, a companion of private complainant Dr. Pascua, told the Jimenez couple that Soriano is “bakla,” among others.
The decision ended, saying the degree of proof mandatory to establish malice was not attained. Soriano was therefore acquitted by the court.
Incidentally, in a separate case dismissed four years earlier, Bernardo Santiago of the Iglesia ni Cristo had filed a case of attempted murder against Bro. Eli Soriano and his companions. Docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 2002-4236-MK and referring to September 4, 2001, the same date he and Dr. Pascua were visiting the Jimenez couple, private complainant Bernardo Santiago alleged that accused Soriano acted in conspiracy with the others to kill him.
According to the order dismissing the case, the prosecution presented Witnesses Glen Fernandez and Rommel Elbambuena who both heard one of the accused say, “Patayin yan! Patayin yan! Utos ni Ingkong!” (Kill him! Kill him! Order of Ingkong!) Ingkong is a monicker for Bro. Eli Soriano.
Judge Geraldine Fiel-Macaraig of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 192 of Marikina City, however, dismissed the case for insufficiency of evidence on February 11, 2010. Conspiracy was not proven.
The most recent case won by Bro. Eli and filed by Iglesia ni Cristo members was for libel but was dismissed on February 11, 2014. Ramil T. Parba as representative of the Iglesia ni Cristo along with Marianito Cayao and Bernardo Santiago, accused Eliseo Soriano and his companions, Danilo Navales, Jocel Mallari, Wilfredo Santiago and Luzviminda Cruz, of libel in Criminal Case No. Q-05-136679 for a program aired on January 21, 2005.
In a 15-page decision signed by Judge Jose G. Paneda of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 220 of the National Capital Judicial Region of Quezon City, Bro. Eliseo Soriano and his co-hosts at UNTV37 were acquitted of the crime of libel even when they were calling the chapel of the Iglesia ni Cristo, “killing fields” and “katayan.”
Comments are considered privileged communication when the subject in question is a public figure whose calling gives the public a legitimate interest in its doings, the decision said.
Cayao and Santiago incidentally are excommunicated members of Ang Dating Daan. In all of these three cases, Bernardo Santiago figured as either as private complainant or involved.
The court took cognizance of the fact that the institution the complainants represented is a public figure wherein the public has legitimate interest in its doings.
By Jane Abao
Manila, Philippines (3/8/2014) – The court is not at all convinced that there exists a case for libel when making remarks from the reading of a Supreme Court Decision over a crime committed on a public figure’s grounds.
In a 15-page decision signed by Judge Jose G. Paneda of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 220 of the National Capital Judicial Region of Quezon City, Bro. Eliseo Soriano and his co-hosts at UNTV37 were acquitted of the crime of libel even when they were calling the chapel of the Iglesia ni Cristo, “killing fields” and “katayan.”
Comments are considered privileged communication when the subject in question is a public figure whose calling gives the public a legitimate interest in its doings, the decision said.
The decision signed on February 11, 2014 by Judge Paneda, said there is no finding as to the liability of the accused and as to the existence of the crime of libel for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the court said.
Ramil T. Parba as representative of the Iglesia ni Cristo along with Marianito Cayao and Bernardo Santiago, accused Eliseo Soriano, Danilo Navales, Jocel Mallari, and Luzviminda Cruz, of libel in Criminal Case No. Q-05-136679 for a program aired on January 21, 2005.
The hosts of “Itanong mo kay Soriano” program at UNTV were accused of “conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping one another with evident intent of exposing the Iglesia ni Cristo to public dishonor, discredit, contempt, and ridicule” and imputing crime on the complainants.
The court noted that the programs, Ang Dating Daan of Bro. Eli and Ang Tamang Daan of the Iglesia ni Cristo have a history of exchanging verbal tussles. And the latest was of the INC complainants making a false expose of allowing selling merchandise inside the four churches of Soriano.
Soriano and his co-hosts in UNTV denied in their program the INC allegation and said the selling was being done outside of the worship areas. The topic for the day in their program turned into which is more disrespectful: selling outside the church or killing in the basement of the chapel? They then discussed the Supreme Court decision in People vs. Abella, G.R. No.127803, August 28, 2000.
In part, the court decision said –
“The scene of the crime was within the compounds of the Iglesia ni Cristo in Sta. Ana and the basement thereof had been witness to the gruesome torture of victims who were eventually found floating in the murky rivers of Pasig.
“Private complainants took offense, more so hurt, when with the reading of the said case of Abella, accused depicted the House of Worship of the Iglesia ni Cristo as ‘katayan,’ the basement as killing fields, execution and torture, apparently in retaliation for the private complainant’s false expose.”
In sum, the court said the act of reading a Supreme Court decision is not libelous, and even with the comments and remarks of the accused, comments are considered privileged. The Case of People vs. Abella et al. where 5 PUP students were bludgeoned to death by INC members over a mere basketball game has since become a matter of public interest and therefore open to public scrutiny.
The court also took cognizance of the fact that the institution the complainants represented is a public figure wherein the public has legitimate interest in its doings.
Borrowing from the wisdom in Warren vs. Pulitzer Publishing Company, and also shared in Borjal vs. the Court of Appeals, the court said, “Every man has a right to discuss matters of interest. A clergyman with his flock, an admiral with his fleet, a general with his army, a judge with his jury. We are, all of us, the subject of public discussion….. It is only in despotism that one must speak sub rosa, or in whispers, with bated breath, around the corner, or in the dark on a subject touching the common welfare…”
The court also took note that when accused Eliseo Soriano peppered the members of the Iglesia ni Cristo with cases of libel in 2005 for calling him names like “Dayukdok,: “Mandarambong, “Mongongotong, “Matakaw sa pera,” “Seaman-loloko,” among many other names through their program, Ang Tamang Daan, the cases were dismissed on the ground that they did not show any defamatory imputations and for lack of malice. The same was observed when the INC members distorted Soriano’s speeches and commentaries.
Documentary exhibits submitted by the defense consisted mostly of video tapes and DVDs to prove consistent patterns of mangling of tapes by the Iglesia ni Cristo on statements made by Soriano. 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.
Incidentally, private complainants Bernardo Santiago and Marianito Cayao were excommunicated by Bro. Eli Soriano from Ang Dating Daan congregation, after which they joined the Iglesia ni Cristo.
An earlier Criminal Case Nos. 2002-4236-MK for attempted murder accusing Eliseo Soriano et al. was also dismissed by Judge Geraldine C. Fiel-Macaraig of the National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 192 of Marikina City for insufficiency of evidence. This was signed four years earlier on February 11, 2010. The private complainant was Bernardo Santiago, one of the complainants in this recently dismissed libel case.
Manila, Philippines (UPDATED April 21, 2013) – It’s election time again! Are we now going to give the country to bloc-voting people?
The effects of bloc voting in the country have never been at a scale felt by those being victimized by it than now. The key here is the impact of a command of unity that leads to an exchange of favor where favor has nothing to do with truth.
Bloc voting has long been a practice germane to the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) as a doctrinal concept. However, such doctrine of unity is not based on the Bible but only in Manalo’s mind according to International Evangelist Eliseo Soriano, the foremost critic of that group.
Eliseo “Eli” Soriano, Presiding Minister to the Members Church of God International (MCGI) or Ang Dating Daan as more popularly known by its Radio-TV program, has been filed case after case by the Iglesia ni Cristo using members excommunicated by Soriano. These people have gone to the INC despite the radical differences in belief beginning with the deity of Christ where the latter (INC) believe he was a mere human, will remain a human, and will appear again as a human and not God.
He said it all began with numbers apparently faked by Felix Manalo since the 2 Million population count of the INC members is many times over the total number of Filipinos in 1953.
Such number shocked politicians right away to court their favor. Until now, their numbers game is being played by the INC and largely helped by their members in media. In 2010, a lady newsreporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer started the myth about the INC registered voters as ranging from 5- 8 Million. Read “registered voters.” That is not even talking about membership. Just with brackets, it is too big for an educated guess work. It is more of a political ploy. But with that millions, why can’t they win?
Arlyn dela Cruz was identified as an INC member who apparently had quickly learned from INC history how the numbers game had helped build the empire of the Manalo’s.
Asking his countrymen to learn how to count, Soriano said people are getting deceived into believing that victory in the national elections is owed to the INC bloc-voting practice. He pointed out examples where the INC failed. Here are some examples of those failed endorsements of the Iglesia ni Cristo – at the national level:
In 1992, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) endorsed Danding Cojuangco to Presidency. Danding landed only as 3rd in the final counting of votes. Six years later, in 1998, the INC supported Joseph Estrada who failed to continue his term. On May 10, 2007, Michael Defensor, Ralph Recto and Vicente Sotto were endorsed as Senators by the INC but they lost in the 2007 elections. On May 5, 2010, the INC endorsed Mar Roxas as Vice-President but he lost. Again, on May 5, 2010, Raffy Biazon was endorsed by the INC as Senator but he lost. In the same year, on July 22, 2010, the Iglesia ni Cristo supported Manny Villar for the Senate Presidency but he failed to win.
Walden Bello in 2010 wrote about local INC leaders selling promised bloc votes to local candidates in Bulacan. He was then running as a Representative for Akbayan. Or is it a command vote? Alex Magno of Philippine Star calls this more of “command votes.” As practiced by the INC it is command votes, he said, “evoking sad imagery of witness voters and omnipotent political lords.”
Whatever you may call it, the INC had perfected this practice by declaring candidates to support only a few days before the actual casting of votes – when the most likely candidate to win is already palpable. They then appear to have exerted some influence when the candidate wins, who usually would call in to thank them.
As discussed by Preacher Soriano, this bloc voting syndrome has affected the country as exemplified by politicians’ sycophantic bestowal of favors to the Iglesia ni Cristo. There is the obvious hope of abbreviated efforts in having to troop to their chapels for endorsement during election time.
In an interview with Bro. Eli recently, this is what he said –
“It’s an undeniable fact that the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) is meddling in government affairs but firstly in placing people in government. They do this in their tricky neat way of saying they helped you win by some calculations they made a few days the win is palpable. With the blessings of a command vote, the fate of the politician is sealed, tucked with a gift of promise in an exchange made in the dark.
“Even in the appointment of justices in the Supreme Court, the INC has not seen it fit to keep off – much to the dismay of the “common tao.”
“If the INC is that numerous that can assure the victory of a candidate, logic dictates that they, given the chance, will want to directly govern the country.
“Why until now are they afraid of fielding their own candidate for a national position, like an INC candidate for senator or vice president or president? The reason is that if their very own (INC) candidates lost,the people and their candidates will discover the truth or the one nearest to the truth: the paltry or insignificant total membership of the INC. This can prove that they are not as numerous as they claim.
“How? It is due to their injunction that a member that will not vote for a chosen candidate will automatically be excommunicated according to their book, ‘Ministerial Code and Ethics.” See?”
It is not a secret that candidates for elections beginning with the president troop to the chapels of the Iglesia ni Cristo. Public news have it that politicians are asked what they can contribute to this church group – before elections or after.
The INC is also known for their job-placement efforts for their members much akin to fraternity systems, the knowledge of which attracts those looking for work, and not for their belief. Matthew Guba was one who did not believe in the man-Christ doctrine of the INC but he stayed on for financial support and education. He was to sell house and lot and then have commissions for school fees. Saying it was a dangerous thing to do, he planned to leave when he could already have studied and have a job.
Every July 27 of every year now is an Iglesia ni Cristo holiday. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who was also endorsed by the INC in the 2004 elections signed it into law. Marichu Villanueva of Philippine Star wrote that Arroyo admitted having asked the support of the INC for the 2004 elections but denies that there was a pay-off.
Following that, Commonwealth Avenue, the longest running street where four big Catholic churches stand, threatened to sport an INC address where Eraño Manalo Avenue would be the new name. This is by virtue of seven politicians who authored House Bill 6785which action surprised many. Delon Porcalla, writing for Philippine Star in October 13, 2009 named them as Reps. Candido P. Pancrudo, Jr (Bukidnon), Diosdado “Dato” M. Arroyo (Camarines Sur), Pedro P. Romualdo (Camiguin), Yevgeny Vicente B. Emano (Misamis Oriental), Jose S. Aquino II (Agusan del Norte), Antonio F. Lagdameo Jr (Davao del Norte), and Rommel C. Amatong (Compostela Valley). It was only a bill, however, that remained a bill. It was not acted upon.
Next, Rodante D. Marcoleta of Alagad Party List, also a member of the INC, authored HB01323, an act renaming the Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City into Eraño G. Manalo Avenue. Status? It is pending with the Committee on Public Works and Highways since August 2, 2010.
After all of these efforts failed, Wikipedia accounts show that the Quezon City government renamed what was Central Avenue to Eraño G. Manalo Avenue under Ordinance number SP-1961 S-2009 of the Quezon City Council. Chito A. Chavez, an INC reporter of Manila Bulletin was quoted as source, who in turn mentioned Ariel Inton as allegedly sponsoring such ordinance. Comelec records show that Antonio “Ariel” Inton Jr. ran for Mayor of Quezon City as Independent some six months before this but lost.
Julie M. Aurelio of Philippine Daily Inquirer also wrote of such proposal on September 4, 2009, also naming Councilor Ariel Inton as proponent of the new street name a few days after Eraño Manalo died.
Although Chito Chavez had reported in 2009 that there was one ordinance approved, a check with Quezon City Ordinances of 2009 reflected no such street naming by Councilor Inton but that he had been vocal about the proposal to some media men, particularly to Chito Chavez. Moreover, the ordinance mentioned by Chito Chavez in his Manila Bulletin report and picked up by many including Wikipedia and propagated as truth does not bear the name Manalo but that of a manufacturing corporation.
In the records of the Quezon City Council, 17th City Council, Ordinance number SP-1961 S-2009 is about granting authority to Hermano Oil to operate a market and the author is Eden Candy A. Medina. And yet the report of Chito Chavez of an approved ordinance has been repeated as gospel truth.
Neither do Quezon City Council Ordinances of 2008 or 2010 reflect of an approved ordinance naming a street to Eraño Manalo nor to Felix Manalo despite efforts of some politicians.
The report of Delon Porcalla said there was the previous effort of the Quezon City Councilors to name Central Avenue to INC founding bishop Felix Manalo, Eraño’s father. However, Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias sent a letter of protest to Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista, who heads the city council, the same report said.
The fight is not over yet for a Manalo Avenue to become a reality among politicians. In February 2010, Lorelei V. Castillo in a press release for the Lower House wrote that Del R. De Guzman sought the early passage of House Bill 7102 that seeks to change the name E. Rodriguez Street from Barangay Concepcion Uno and Barangay Sto. Niño in Marikina City to Eraño G. Manalo Avenue. A few months before this, De Guzman was eyeing the office of the Mayor. He assumed office as Mayor on June 30, 2010, having won the latest election. De Guzman was a Representative of the Lower House before he ran for mayor.
If all these efforts at street-renaming for the INC Manalo’s are happening in Metro-Manila and the suburbs, it is also happening in Mindanao where people are more vocal in protesting against new street names.
Nicole J. Managbanag of SunStar Cagayan de Oro wrote on July 11, 2012 about a Councilor Alvin Calingin who authored three resolutions declaring July 27, 2012 and every year thereafter as INC Day in Cagayan de Oro City, renaming the Montalvan St. as “Felix Y. Manalo St.” in honor of the founder of INC; and naming the road from the junction of Concordio Diel St. and Villarin St. in Barangay Carmen to the landfill in upper Dagong up to the boundary of Barangay Canitoan as “Eraño V. Manalo St.” in honor of INC’s former executive minister.
Two days after, on July 13, 2012, Cong Corrales of InterAksyon.com, the online news portal of TV5, wrote about the chaos the Calingin resolutions produced. The Montalvan families who vowed to fight for the honor of their grandfather were backed up by historians and long-time residents. Bangon Kagay-anon vowed to fight these resolutions too.
Montalvan Street that Councilor Alvin Calingin wanted changed to Felix Y. Manalo St. stood in honor of Dr. Antonio Montalvan who had brothers Jesus, and Jose, who also fought the Japanese during World War II.
Corrales reported that the eldest brother Jesus served as intelligence officer in the guerrilla unit lead by Col. Wendell Fertig while Jose served as camp commander of the Philippine Auxiliary Tactical Air Group, what is now Camp Edilberto Evangelista, headquarters of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division.
Dr. Antonio Montalvan, for his part, was an intelligence officer captured by the Japanese and was beheaded with other captured guerillas at the Chinese Cemetery in Tayabas, Quezon. A monument honoring them still stands at the North Cemetery, the report said.
In reacting, Councilor Calingin said that city streets get renamed often, but this did not sit well with the local residents. They called the Calingin resolutions a political stunt ahead of the 2013 elections, the report said.
The Montalvans, among them a historian named Antonio II, pointed out that it is only the National Historical Commission that is authorized by Republic Act 10066, or the National Cultural Heritage Act to approve the renaming of streets.
You would think that renaming streets after one Manalo is stupid, but here’s one that surpasses it all. One hundred twenty-five years after the death of Felix Y. Manalo, here comes a Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri with a Senate Resolution 471 to honor the dead. The Resolution ended this way: “Be it resolved as it is hereby resolved that the Senate of the Philippines remember the 125th birth anniversary on May 10, 2011 of Ka Felix Manalo, founder of the Iglesia ni Cristo. Adopted.” Whereas in the true CHURCH, the dead are believed to be dead, resting, and beyond man’s reach. More so honoring one after 125 years buried in one’s part of the earth, whose remains cannot hear any, is a manifestation of stupidity and ignorance in Biblical teachings.
After the Lower House, by virtue of their enterprising representatives, the Senate is involved too?
This is how far we are afraid of them. This is how far we have been taken in by the Iglesia ni Cristo.
The police are ours; the mayor is ours; the fiscal is ours. So now, where will you go? Thus bragged in topix.net a blogger belonging to this group where the leader only has to intervene in any deadlock in the affairs of the Senate and the House. And presto, the problem is solved!
Did not Juan Ponce Enrile warn of church groups meddling in the affairs of the senate lately? Did not Francis Pangilinan give up his interest in running as Senate President, claiming that the Iglesia ni Cristo is blocking his efforts? Was not the Rose Barrameda case being followed up by the the Iglesia ni Cristo?
Where did they get their guts to be doing all these interventions? From people who succumbed to their bloc voting or command votes practice. Of course! There is an exchange involved in the process – and what an exchange!
“The Iglesia Ni Cristo is a minority church that is always on the wrong side of history. It has a track record of supporting most unholy causes to pursue certain opportunistic objectives.” This comes from Philip M. Lustre, writing from Manila Standard Today.
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 her fort as head censor of the MTRCB and decides matters upon the behest of the INC.
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, Melissa Rodgers who wrote about courageous women journalists reported. The threats stopped only after the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) wrote the President which contents were picked up by the local press. As a result of death threats, nowadays Newsbreak is more careful. It would scantily name reporters of reports.
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.
The country is being sold to the dogs if decisions are only made to please the wiles of some people. Departures from just decisions ensure that those who disagree with one’s group are muffled to the core. A case in point is Bro. Eliseo Soriano who up to the Highest Court doesn’t seem to have hope for justice.
Justice is not reserved only for those who can dictate on voting because in the first place such kind of voting rapes the freedom to screen the candidate for his true worth. On the part of the candidate, he is missing the chance to be evaluated properly by individual voters. All in all, the set-up is virtually a demonic exchange for something that would make one’s country and countrymen suffer later on in many forms.
The candidate-winner won’t be able to feel the consequences, of course, being now ensconced in high places of personal comfort. Meanwhile people suffer first from injustice, now that the country is becoming divided into INC interests and non-INC interests.
Why so? Politicians curry their favor, even crafting resolutions such as gifting them with holidays, changing the names of important streets to names of INC leaders, chalking up memorandums of agreements. These they do to ensure their political ambitions.
How about media? They repeat what they read as truth, regardless of whether it is an INC propaganda or not. They are afraid to comment and exercise their social responsibilities; instead they help crystallize what social decay has started. As simple as applying compartmentalized justice on the streets, people are divided into who gets kid-gloves treatment and who gets sanctioned. As long as you carry those green-white- and-red stripes of the INC taken from Italian symbols, you are safe, no matter what traffic violation you made. But the traffic syndrome is just a tip of the iceberg. And yet media is quiet.
Why do we allow this?
The sinister spirit has caught up in all forms within the government system. It has been many years already embedding itself, and because we are afraid of numbers, it will remain that way.
Conrado de Quiros of Philippine Daily Inquirer could only ask, why do we allow this? Yet no one of us is responding. The numbers game – no matter how fake – has muffled our voices.
What next do we give to the Iglesia ni Cristo? The whole country?
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Medina, Eden Candy A. SP-1961, S-200. .An Ordinance granting a franchise to Hermano Oil Manufacturing and Sugar Corporation to operate the Kingspoint wet and dry market along Kingspoint Avenue Subdivision, Barangay Bagbag, District 2, Quezon City, provided that no structure would be constructed. Republic of the Philippines, Quezon City Council, 17th City Council, 69th Regular Session. Government Files. Quezon City: Quezon City Ordinances, 2009. Web.
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UPDATE: On August 28, 2011, this stockholder came to ADDPublications and submitted this letter which he had sent to Atty. Felipe L. Gozon in 2009. Noting that GMA News had maliciously replayed Case Unclosed Paninirang Puri after two years in August 2011 despite public outcry for unfair treatment, he had requested that this letter be published but with his name withheld. Since the letter raised strong points, we are publishing it here. Take note, Boycott GMA 7 News TV 11 is a sustained boycott and now has more than 32,000 supporters. – Admin
July 27, 2009
Atty. Felipe L. Gozon
Chairman, President and CEO
GMA Network, Inc.
Diliman, Quezon City
Subject: Case Unclosed, hosted by Arnold Clavio
Dear Mr. Chairman,
I am a small shareholder of GMA 7 network. I want to reach to the program – Case Unclosed hosted by Mr. Arnold Clavio aired sometime in the middle of June 2009. Mr. Chairman, my letter is long, but please have patience in reading it. As the stockholder of GMA 7, I have the right to express my sentiment. This letter contains some verifiable clarifications regarding Bro. Eli Soriano.
The airing of the case of Daniel Veridiano on the program Case Unclosed on GMA 7 betrays your claim of “walang kinikilingan, walang pinoprotektahan.” By so doing, it seems the Network just did the opposite. Pardon me Sir, but as a lawyer, you know what sub judice is. GMA 7 committed a big blunder and irreparable damage in showing the segment of Case Unclosed. It does not speak well of GMA 7. The Network’s credibility was put at stake, and unfortunately, permanently lost the patronage of the Members Church of God International (MCGI) members. It must be noted that in every month, worldwide membership of this Church is increasing by the hundreds if not thousands. Members Church of God International come from all strata of society, from different religious organizations, and from various disciplines.
It is very saddening to note Mr. Chairman that GMA 7 allowed itself to be used by unscrupulous and influential people. (But no amount of money and influence can suppress divine truth.) GMA 7 glamorized a case that was fabricated. Mr. Arnold Clavio made a fool of himself in hosting that segment of Case Unclosed, and subsequently disgraced GMA Network, Inc… The honorable people behind GMA 7 may also have been affected. There is not a grain of truth in the case. The people cuddling Mr. Veridiano known very well that the case they filed in the court is a fruit of their imagination.
If only GMA 7 took pains in checking the background of Mr. Daniel Veridiano. Mr. Veridiano is a pervert and a low life. He was expelled from MCGI due to immoral acts. Mr. Chairman, which is more credible, the testimony of his 18 young male victims or his own denial? Mr. Veridiano also embezzled large amount of money entrusted to him when he was still with the Ang Dating Daan (ADD).These things were admitted by him thru his own confessions taken by video and from a letter of his own handwriting. Now Sir, is this the kind of person GMA Network, Inc., a vast and esteemed organization, gambled its credibility and reputation? As a stockholder of GMA 7, I am concerned also with the business affairs of GMA 7, especially if it deviates from its role of upholding integrity and responsible delivery of news and information (as contained in the 2008 Annual Report). At this instance case, the rights of an innocent person – Bro. Eli Soriano, was deliberately violated.
A few years back, when Ces Drilon and Luchi Cruz made biased reports about Bro. Eli Soriano on their programs on Channel 2, members of MCGI shifted patronage to GMA7. For sure, this move contributed the No. 1 rating of GMA 7. But now what Arnold Clavio has done to Bro. Eli is even worse. There is not any chance Bro. Eli can repute allegations made on Case Unclosed, because of sub judice. Mr. Clavio seems to have forgotten also one Filipino value, which is “may pinagsamahan.” It might also be better for him to remove the word “Igan” placed between his name.
Setting aside “crab mentality” Sir, what do you think of Bro Eli Soriano, as host of “Itanong mo kay Soriano, Biblia ang Sasagot,” broadcasting daily at UNTV? If there are Manny Pacquiao, Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda who made the Filipinos proud, there is also Bro. Eli Soriano who is silently making waves among diverse people around the world.
This make us Filipinos proud also of Bro. Eli Soriano, and supportive of him (not fabricate things to destroy him). His Bible Expositions here and abroad are overflowing with people. The same is true with the hundreds of e-mails he receives every day. The achievements of Manny, Charice and Arnel will soon fade away, but the teachings of Bro. Eli will also remain engraved in the hearts of men. The number of God fearing Christian converts will also continue to increase a thousand folds, and this is a continuing process.
No doubt, Bro. Eli Soriano is the most sensible preacher today. He is blessed and guided by God. No head of any religious organization dared to engage Bro. Eli to a friendly debate. Anywhere in the world, nobody can do what Bro. Eli is doing, not even any Filipino. He has a ready answer to every question being asked to him, be it biblical, scientific or about family and health problems.
But the most important thing of all is, Bro. Eli changed the lives of thousands of people he came across with. People, who are wicked and usually engaged in many forms of vices, including hardened criminals, mended their sinful ways and now converted to be God-fearing Christians. Even skeptics, nonbelievers and some Muslims cannot disagree but believe in the teachings of Bro. Eli Soriano.
Ang Dating Daan or The Old Path is now being broadcast in almost all countries around the world via satellite and thru internet. Coordinating centers of Ang Dating Daan are sprouting, not only in different parts of the Philippines, but in many places and cities in Asia, Australia, Africa, Canada, North and South America, the Middle East, the Caribbean and some parts of Europe. Most recently, large groups of natives of Brazil, Ghana-Africa and Papua New Guinea became members of Church of God International. These people, which are of different races, have not seen but only heard Bro. Eli Soriano.
The various project of Bro. Eli for the service of mankind, is open knowledge. To mention a few, he has the free college education, free MRT ride for senior citizens, free medical clinic, transient homes, “libreng sakay,” free legal services, and many others. Bro. Eli does not stop helping people, physically and spiritually, and unmindful of the enormous risk of his own life. Bro. Eli devoted his entire life propagating the words of God. He incurred indebtedness in millions of pesos due to the magnitude of his work. His ultimate aim of global evangelization is now being gradually realized.
Now, Mr. Chairman, what remedy can GMA Network, Inc. do to repair the damage done to Bro. Eli Soriano, and to win back the patronage of the Members Church of God International? And simultaneously, restore the tarnished image and credibility of GMA 7, and maintain its No. 1 rating? It’s now your intelligent move, Mr. President. Lastly, thank you Sir for rendering my long letter.
Very truly yours,
A CONCERNED STOCKHOLDER
(My name is intentionally omitted Sir, for my own protection.)
UPDATE (8/24/2012): While people ignore Ang Dating Daan’s sustained boycott over these stations going over a year already, the handwriting is on the wall: GMA’s revenues are going down, down. More yet, nobody wants to buy it although the network keeps saying it is for sale. On the other hand, some 32,000 boycotters keep at it, deleting channels 7 and 11 from their TV viewing list. What is true is that the TV stations have painted Ang Dating Daan as an organization and Bro. Eli Soriano in bad light. However, there was no attempt to apologize. We continue with our boycott to show to the public that it is not fair to malign anyone who has integrity and character in the process of doing one’s supposed media work. After all, between these TV stations and Bro. Eli, who is closest to the House of Truth that is in the Father of Truth? It is TruthCaster! It is Bro. Eli! He doesn’t peddle lies just for ratings! So, here we go –
ABOUT the Boycott Page in Facebook –
Verb: Withdraw from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest.
Noun: A punitive ban that forbids relations with other bodies, cooperation with a policy, or the handling of goods.
We boycott GMA7 News TV 11 news for –
1) Ignorance. In handling information that they pass to the public through Case Unclosed re rape case filed by one Daniel Puto Veridiano against Bro. Eli, no attempt was made to do required research in such a sensitive case. Connecting the accused and the accuser is a lot of information about rapes committed by Daniel Veridiano but these were ignored. Connecting the accused and the accuser is excommunication done in the church, but no attempt was done to verify events pointing to the non-credibility of the accuser Veridiano against his previous benefactor. More yet, connecting the accused and the accuser is the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) where Veridiano went to after he was excommunicated from Ang Dating Daan. The INC has openly been after the skin of Bro. Eli Soriano which the latter exposes for their deceptions. The INC has often filed case after case against Bro. Eli. If the dissenting judges were able to see these connections, more so should responsible journalists. These connections were all ignored by this so-called media outfit that is supposed to be socially-responsible in handling news.
2) Pursuing its personal agenda. What about social responsibility? In June 18, 2009, when GMA first presented Case Unclosed by Arnold Clavio, the network was chided with a 1st boycott from Ang Dating Daan. They were told, it was unfair, biased, and clearly without research. Arnold Clavio and company could have easily asked about the background of the person they were representing. While Accuser Veridiano admitted to sexually abusing 9 of his subordinates, 14 were complaining. Yet, more than two years after, on August 3, 2011 QTV11 owned by GMA replayed the program during a noon time show. GMA preferred to present the bad seed in good light, ignoring looking into the side of Bro. Eli Soriano who has adopted millions of marginalized Filipinos, teaching them how to live properly and not be liabilities to the country. If GMA is more serious in its endeavor, it could have recognized Bro. Eli as a true National Treasure instead of insulting him by siding with the bad.
3) Slumbering in its comfort zone. In the belief that GMA news is using Bro. Eli Soriano for personal motives despite their claim as being House of Truth (Tahanan ng Katotohanan), this media outfit deserves to be kicked conscious of its slumber from its comfort zone to truly serve the public – without siding with anyone. Whatever influence GMA news suffers from, it is its look out not to be used by anyone, whoever they are.
This August 2011 begins again our SECOND boycott on GMA News. We have deleted Channels 7 and 11 from our programs. We will continue to post #boycottgmanews in our tweets. We will not patronize this network UNTIL it gives a PUBLIC APOLOGY to Bro. Eli Soriano and the Ang Dating Daan organization for what it did. Or accept the challenge of a debate. If it cannot stand for a debate, then arrange a forum for a televised debate with the Iglesia ni Cristo which it has represented. He who is telling lies shall be exposed. Until then, may the boycott be sustained.
This page will remain and may it continue to gather adherents to the cause.
Free speech must be protected so that the people can engage in the discussion and deliberation necessary for the successful operation of democratic institutions. – Justice Antonio T. Carpio
The following is an update on the case of Bro. Eli Soriano versus Ma. Consoliza Laguardia and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). It begins with the preacher’s account with a snippet from TOP magazine. It then leads to Erika T. Dy’s news on Supreme Court’s en banc decision, and Newsbreak Purple S. Romero’s voting report of the Supreme Court on the case. The focus is on the dissenting opinions of two justices: Justice Roberto A. Abad and Justice Antonio T. Carpio.The dissenting opinions carry facts of the case which can update the reader.
Dissent means that judges that do not agree with the majority may write their own dissenting opinions to state their views.
MTRCB suspended Bro. Soriano’s television broadcasts after the same religious group, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), had filed practically the same complaints about the use of harsh words by Bro. Soriano or alleged “bad words” and defamation against the INC. Soriano contested the suspensions at the high court, complaining that the MTRCB violated his constitutional right to free religion, speech, and expression.
“The statements were merely in response to the detestable conduct of the ministers of the Iglesia ni Cristo hosting a television program entitled, Ang Tamang Daan,” he said.
In taking Ang Dating Daan off the air, the MTRCB cited Section 3 of Presidential Decree 1986, granting the Board the power to screen, review, and examine all movie and TV programs and to delete materials that it deems morally offensive.
The Supreme Court en banc, in an 11-4 vote, upheld the three-month suspension imposed by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board on the TV program Ang Dating Daan, aired on UNTV 37, after its host, petitioner Eliseo S. Soriano, was found to have uttered offensive and obscene remarks during its August 10, 2004 broadcast.
The majority, in a consolidated decision, speaking through Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., held that the suspension is not a prior restraint, but rather a “form of permissible administrative sanction or subsequent punishment.” In affirming the power of the MTRCB to issue an order of suspension, the majority said that “it is a sanction that the MTRCB may validly impose under its charter without running afoul of the free speech clause.” [Source: Erika T. Dy. SC Upholds MTRCB Suspension of Ang Dating Daan. Supreme Court of the Philippines. April 30, 2009.]
A researcher from Newsbreak had provided a capsule report of the voting of the High Court on this issue as follows –
How the Supreme Court decided on
Soriano v. Laguardia; Soriano v. MTRCB
(on the suspension of “Dating Daan” preacher for uttering profanities on air against the Iglesia ni Cristo)
Why is it important: The case raised questions on what constitutes prior restraint.
The SC upheld the 3-month suspension of Dating Daan host Eliseo Soriano, who uttered profanities against the religious sect Iglesia ni Cristo on his show.
The Movie and Television Review Classification Board first slapped Soriano with a 20-day preventive suspension upon preliminary probe. It then issued a 3-month suspension against Soriano after he was found guilty of expressing obscenities on air.
The majority ruled that it is within the powers of the MTRCB to issue a preventive suspension.
However, those who dissented, which included Chief Justice Reynato Puno, said that the sanction will extend to Soriano’s future speech, and thus would constitute prior restraint.
How they voted: De Castro concurred with the decision. Carpio and Carpio-Morales dissented. Brion and Corona voted to dismiss the petition. [Research by Purple S. Romero. Newsbreak.com]
Here come now the excerpts from Law Monitor of the Supreme Court showing the dissenting opinions of Justice Roberto A. Abad and Justice Antonio T. Carpio.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Supreme Court Decisions and Resolutions March 2010
G.R. No. 164785/G.R. No. 165636. March 15, 2010
Eliseo F. Soriano Vs. Ma. Consoliza P. Laguardia, etc. et al./Eliseo F. Soriano Vs. Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, et al.
G.R. No. 164785 — ELISEO F. SORIANO, Petitioner, versus MA. CONSOLIZA P. LAGUARDIA, in her capacity as Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, MOVIE AND TELEVISION REVIEW AND CLASSIFICATION BOARD, JESSIE L. GALAPON, ANABEL M. DELA CRUZ, MANUEL M. HERNANDEZ, JOSE L. LOPEZ, CRISANTO SORIANO, BERNABE S. YARIA, JR., MICHAEL M. SANDOVAL and ROLDAN A. GAVINO, Respondents.
G.R. No. 165636 — ELISEO F. SORIANO, Petitioner, versus MOVIE AND TELEVISION REVIEW AND CLASSIFICATION BOARD, ZOSIMO G. ALEGRE, JACKIE AQUINO-GAVINO, NOEL R. DEL PRADO, EMMANUEL BORLAZA, JOSE E. ROMERO IV, and FLORIMONDO C. ROUS, in their capacity as members of the Hearing and Adjudication Committee of the MTRCB, JESSIE L. GALAPON, ANABEL M. DELA CRUZ, MANUEL M. HERNANDEZ, JOSE L. LOPEZ, CRISANTO SORIANO, BERNABE S. YARIA, JR., MICHAEL M. SANDOVAL and ROLDAN A. GAVINO, in their capacity as complainants before the MTRCB, Respondents.
March 15, 2010
x —————————————————————————————- x
I am submitting this dissent to the ably written ponencia of Justice Presbiterio J. Velasco, Jr. that seeks to deny the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the Court’s decision in the case.
Petitioner Eliseo F. Soriano, a television evangelist, hosted the Ang Dating Daan, a popular television ministry aired nationwide everyday from 10:00 p.m. to midnight over public television. The program carried a “general patronage” rating from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).
The Ang Dating Daan’s rivalry with another religious television program, the Iglesia ni Cristo’s Ang Tamang Daan, is well known. The hosts of the two shows have regularly engaged in verbal sparring on air, hurling accusations and counter-accusations with respect to their opposing religious beliefs and practices.
It appears that in his program Ang Tamang Daan, Michael M. Sandoval (Michael) of the Iglesia ni Cristo attacked petitioner Soriano of the Ang Dating Daan for alleged inconsistencies in his Bible teachings. Michael compared spliced recordings of Soriano’s statements, matched with subtitles of his utterances, to demonstrate those inconsistencies. On August 10, 2004, in an apparent reaction to what he perceived as a malicious attack against him by the rival television program, Soriano accused Michael of prostituting himself with his fabricated presentations. Thus:
“….gago ka talaga Michael. Masahol ka pa sa putang babae. O di ba? Yung putang babae ang gumagana lang doon yung ibaba, kay Michael ang gumagana ang itaas, o di ba! O, masahol pa sa putang babae yan. Sabi ng lola ko masahol pa sa putang babae yan. Sobra ang kasinungalingan ng demonyong ito…”
Michael and seven other ministers of the Iglesia ni Cristo lodged a complaint against petitioner Soriano before the MTRCB. Acting swiftly, the latter preventively suspended the airing of Soriano’s Ang Dating Daan television program for 20 days, pursuant to its powers under Section 3(d) of Presidential Decree 1986 and its related rules.
Petitioner Soriano challenged the validity of that preventive suspension before this Court in G.R. 164785. Meanwhile, after hearing the main case or on September 27, 2004, the MTRCB found Soriano guilty as charged and imposed on him a penalty of three months suspension from appearing on the Ang Dating Daan program. Soriano thus filed a second petition in G.R. 165636 to question that decision. The Court consolidated the two cases.
On April 29, 2009 the Court rendered a decision, upholding MTRCB’s power to impose preventive suspension and affirming its decision against petitioner Soriano with the modification of applying the three-month suspension to the program And Dating Daan, rather than to Soriano.
This dissenting opinion presents a narrow issue: whether or not the Court is justified in imposing the penalty of three-month suspension on the television program Ang Dating Daan on the ground of host petitioner Soriano’s remarks about Iglesia ni Cristo’s Michael prostituting himself when he attacked Soriano in the Iglesia’s own television program.
The Ang Dating Daan is a nationwide television ministry of a church organization officially known as “Members of the Church of God International” headed by petitioner Soriano. It is a vast religious movement not so far from those of Mike Velarde’s El Shadai, Eddie Villanueva’s Jesus is Lord, and Apollo Quiboloy’s The Kingdom of Jesus Christ. These movements have generated such tremendous following that they have been able to sustain daily television and radio programs that reach out to their members and followers all over the country. Some of their programs are broadcast abroad. Ang Dating Daan is aired in the United States and Canada.
The Catholic Church is of course the largest religious organization in the Philippines. If its members get their spiritual nourishments from attending masses or novenas in their local churches, those of petitioner Soriano’s church tune in every night to listen to his televised Bible teachings and how these teachings apply to their lives. They hardly have places of worship like the Catholic Church or the mainstream protestant movements.
Thus, suspending the Ang Dating Daan television program is the equivalent of closing down their churches to its followers. Their inability to tune in on their Bible teaching program in the evening is for them like going to church on Sunday morning, only to find its doors and windows heavily barred. Inside, the halls are empty.
Do they deserve this? No.
1. A tiny moment of lost temper.
Petitioner Soriano’s Bible ministry has been on television continuously for 27 years since 1983 with no prior record of use of foul language. For a 15-second outburst of its head at his bitterest critics, it seems not fair for the Court to close down this Bible ministry to its large followers altogether for a full quarter of a year. It is like cutting the leg to cure a smelly foot.
2. Not obscene.
Primarily, it is obscenity on television that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech does not protect. As the Court’s decision points out, the test of obscenity is whether the average person, applying contemporary standards, would find the speech, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest. A thing is prurient when it arouses lascivious thoughts or desires or tends to arouse sexual desire.
A quarter-of-a-year suspension would probably be justified when a general patronage program intentionally sneaks in snippets of lewd, prurient materials to attract an audience to the program. This has not been the case here.
3. Merely borders on indecent.
Actually, the Court concedes that petitioner Soriano’s short outburst was not in the category of the obscene. It was just “indecent.” But were his words and their meaning utterly indecent? In a scale of 10, did he use the grossest language? He did not.
First, Soriano actually exercised some restraints in the sense that he did not use the vernacular word for the female sexual organ when referring to it, which word even the published opinions of the Court avoided despite its adult readers. He referred to it as “yung ibaba” or down below. And, instead of using the patently offensive vernacular equivalent of the word “fuck” that describes the sexual act in which the prostitute engages herself, he instead used the word “gumagana lang doon yung ibaba” or what functions is only down below. At most, his utterance merely bordered on the indecent.
Second, the word “puta” or “prostitute” describes a bad trade but it is not a bad word. The world needs a word to describe it. “Evil” is bad but the word “evil” is not; the use of the words “puta” or “evil” helps people understand the values that compete in this world. A policy that places these ordinary descriptive words beyond the hearing of children is unrealistic and is based on groundless fear. Surely no member of the Court will recall that when yet a child his or her hearing the word “puta” for the first time left him or her wounded for life.
Third, Soriano did not tell his viewers that being a prostitute was good. He did not praise prostitutes as to make them attractive models to his listeners. Indeed, he condemned Michael for acting like a prostitute in attacking him on the air. The trouble is that the Court, like the MTRCB read his few lines in isolation. Actually, from the larger picture, Soriano appears to have been provoked by Michael’s resort to splicing his speeches and making it appear that he had taught inconsistent and false doctrines to his listeners. If Michael’s sin were true, Soriano was simply defending himself with justified anger.
And fourth, the Court appears to have given a literal meaning to what Soriano said.
“Gago ka talaga x x x, masahol ka pa sa putang babae x x x. Yung putang babae ang gumagana lang doon yung ibaba, [dito] kay Michael ang gumagana ang itaas, o di ba!”
This was a figure of speech. Michael was a man, so he could not literally be a female prostitute. Its real meaning is that Michael was acting like a prostitute in mouthing the ideas of anyone who cared to pay him for such service. It had no indecent meaning. The Bible itself uses the word “prostitute” as a figure of speech. “By their deeds they prostituted themselves,” said Psalm 106:39 of the Israelites who continued to worship idols after God had taken them out of Egyptian slavery. Soriano’s real message is that Michael prostituted himself by his calumny against him.
If at all, petitioner Soriano’s breach of the rule of decency is slight, one on a scale of 10. Still, the Court would deprive the Ang Dating Daan followers of their nightly bible teachings for a quarter of a year because their head teacher had used figures of speech to make his message vivid.
4. The average child as listener
The Court claims that, since Ang Dating Daan carried a general patronage rating, Soriano’s speech no doubt caused harm to the children who watched the show. This statement is much too sweeping.
The Court relies on the United States case of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) v. Pacifica Foundation, a 1978 landmark case. Here are snatches of the challenged monologue that was aired on radio:
The original seven words were, shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Those are the ones that will curve your spine, grow hair on your hands and maybe, even bring us, God help us, peace without honor and bourbon…Also cocksucker is a compound word and neither half of that is really dirty…And the cock crowed three times, the cock—three times. It’s in the Bible, cock in the Bible…Hot shit, holy shit, tough shit, eat shit, shit-eating grin…It’s a great word, fuck, nice word, easy word, cute word, kind of. Easy word to say. One syllable, short u. Fuck…A little something for everyone. Fuck. Good word. x x x
Imagine how the above would sound if translated into any of the Filipino vernaculars. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the above is not protected speech and that the FCC could regulate its airing on radio. The U.S. Supreme Court was of course correct.
Here, however, there is no question that Soriano attacked Michael, using figure of speech, at past 10:00 in the evening, not at 2:00 in the afternoon. The average Filipino child would have been long in bed by the time Ang Dating Daan appeared on the television screen. What is more, Bible teaching and interpretation is not the stuff of kids. It is not likely that they would give up programs of interest to them just to listen to Soriano drawing a distinction between “faith” and “work or action.” The Court has stretched the “child” angle beyond realistic proportions. The MTRCB probably gave the program a general patronage rating simply because Ang Dating Daan had never before been involved in any questionable broadcast in the previous 27 years that it had been on the air.
The monologue in the FCC case that was broadcast at 2 in the afternoon was pure indecent and gross language, uttered for its own sake with no social value at all. It cannot compare to Soriano’s speech where the indecent words were slight and spoken as mere figure of speech to defend himself from what he perceived as malicious criticism.
5. Disproportionate penalty
The Court applied the balancing of interest test in justifying the imposition of the penalty of suspension against Ang Dating Daan. Under this test, when particular conduct is regulated in the interest of public order and the regulation results in an indirect, conditional, partial abridgment of speech, the duty of the courts is to determine which of the two conflicting interests demands the greater protection under the particular circumstances presented.
An example of this is where an ordinance prohibits the making of loud noises from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Can this ordinance be applied to prevent vehicles circling the neighborhood at such hours of night, playing campaign jingles on their loudspeakers to win votes for candidates in the election? Here, there is a tension between the rights of candidates to address their constituents and the interest of the people in healthy undisturbed sleep. The Court would probably uphold the ordinance since public interest demands a quiet night’s rest for all and since the restraint on the freedom of speech is indirect, conditional, and partial. The candidate is free to make his broadcast during daytime when people are normally awake and can appreciate what he is saying.
But here, the abridgment of speech—three months total suspension of the Ang Dating Daan television bible teaching program—cannot be regarded as indirect, conditional, or partial. It is a direct, unconditional, and total abridgment of the freedom of speech, to which a religious organization is entitled, for a whole quarter of a year.
In the American case of FCC, a parent complained. He was riding with his son in the car at 2:00 in the afternoon and they heard the grossly indecent monologue on radio. Here, no parent has in fact come forward with a complaint that his child had heard petitioner Soriano’s speech and was harmed by it. The Court cannot pretend that this is a case of angry or agitated parents against Ang Dating Daan. The complaint here came from Iglesia ni Cristo preachers and members who deeply loathed Soriano and his church. The Court’s decision will not be a victory for the children but for the Iglesia ni Cristo, finally enabling it to silence an abhorred competing religious belief and its practices.
What is more, since this case is about protecting children, the more appropriate penalty, if Soriano’s speech during the program mentioned was indecent and had offended them, is to raise his program’s restriction classification. The MTRCB classify programs to protect vulnerable audiences. It can change the present G or General Patronage classification of Ang Dating Daan to PG or “with Parental Guidance only” for three months. This can come with a warning that should the program commit the same violation, the MTRCB can make the new classification permanent or, if the violation is recurring, cancel its program’s permit.
This has precedent. In Gonzales v. Katigbak, the Court did not ban the motion picture just because there were suggestive scenes in it that were not fit for children. It simply classified the picture as for adults only. By doing this, the Court would not be cutting the leg to cure a smelly foot.
I vote to partially grant the motion for reconsideration by modifying the three-month suspension penalty imposed on the program Ang Dating Daan. In its place, I vote to raise the program’s restriction classification from G or General Patronage to PG or with Parental Guidance for three months with warning that should petitioner Soriano commit the same violation, the classification of his program will be permanently changed or, if the violation is persistent, the program will be altogether cancelled.
ROBERTO A. ABAD
 Creating the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, p. 1829.
 Id. at 1274.
 New International Version (North American Edition); see other biblical passages that use “prostitute” as a figure of speech: Judges 2:17; 8:27; 8:33; 1Chronicles 5:25; and Leviticus 20:5.
G.R. Nos. 164785 and 165636 – ELISEO F. SORIANO, Petitioner, – versus – MA. CONSOLACION P. LAGUARDIA, in her capacity as Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, MOVIE AND TELEVISION REVIEW AND CLASSIFICATION BOARD, JESSIE L. GALAPON, ET AL., Respondents.
March 15, 2010
Liberty is a right that inheres in every one of us as a member of the human family. When a person is deprived of his right, all of us are diminished and debased for liberty is total and indivisible.
Among the cherished liberties in a democracy such as ours is freedom of expression. A democracy needs a healthy public sphere where the people can exchange ideas, acquire knowledge and information, confront public issues, or discuss matters of public interest, without fear of reprisals. Free speech must be protected so that the people can engage in the discussion and deliberation necessary for the successful operation of democratic institutions. Thus, no less than our Constitution mandates full protection to freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press. All of the protections expressed in the Bill of Rights are important, but the courts have accorded to free speech the status of a preferred freedom. This qualitative significance of freedom of expression arises from the fact that it is the indispensable condition of nearly every other freedom.
The freedom of expression clause is precisely a guarantee against both prior restraint and subsequent punishment. It protects from any undue interference by the government the people’s right to freely speak their minds. The guarantee rests on the principle that freedom of expression is essential to a functioning democracy and suppression of expression leads to authoritarianism.
Prior restraint has been defined as official governmental restrictions on any form of expression in advance of actual dissemination. But the mere prohibition of government interference before words are spoken is not an adequate protection of the freedom of expression if the government could arbitrarily punish after the words have been spoken. The threat of subsequent punishment itself would operate as a very effective prior restraint.
Any form of prior restraint bears a presumption against its constitutional validity. The burden is on the censor to justify any imposition of prior restraint, not on the censored to put up a defense against it. In the case of print media, it has been held that just because press freedom may sometimes be abused does not mean that the press does not deserve immunity from prior restraint. The settled rule is that any such abuse may be remedied by subsequent punishment.
This Court, in Eastern Broadcasting Corporation v. Dans, Jr., laid down the following guideline:
All forms of media, whether print or broadcast, are entitled to the broad protection of the freedom of speech and expression clause. The test for limitations on freedom of expression continues to be the clear and present danger rule – that words are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that the lawmaker has a right to prevent.
Chief Justice Fernando expounded on the meaning of the “clear and present danger” test in Gonzalez v. Chairman Katigbak, to wit:
The test, to repeat, to determine whether freedom of expression may be limited is the clear and present danger of an evil of a substantive character that the State has a right to prevent. Such danger must not only be clear but must also be present. There should be no doubt that what is feared may be traced to the expression complained of. The causal connection must be evident. Also, there must be reasonable apprehension about its imminence. The time element cannot be ignored. Nor does it suffice if such danger be only probable. There is the requirement of its being well-nigh inevitable.
Where the medium of a television broadcast is concerned, as in the case at hand, well-entrenched is the rule that censorship is allowable only under the clearest proof of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil to public safety, public morals, public health, or any other legitimate public interest.
One of the established exceptions in freedom of expression is speech characterized as obscene. I will briefly discuss obscenity as the majority opinion characterized the subject speech in this case as obscene, thereby taking the speech out of the scope of constitutional protection.
The leading test for determining what material could be considered obscene was the famous Regina v. Hicklin case wherein Lord Cockburn enunciated thus:
I think the test of obscenity is this, whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall.
Judge Learned Hand, in United States v. Kennerly, opposed the strictness of the Hicklin test even as he was obliged to follow the rule. He wrote:
I hope it is not improper for me to say that the rule as laid down, however consonant it may be with mid-Victorian morals, does not seem to me to answer to the understanding and morality of the present time.
Roth v. United States laid down the more reasonable and thus, more acceptable test for obscenity: “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest.” Such material is defined as that which has “a tendency to excite lustful thoughts,” and “prurient interest” as “a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion.”
Miller v. California merely expanded the Roth test to include two additional criteria: “the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and the work, taken as whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” The basic test, as applied in our jurisprudence, extracts the essence of both Roth and Miller – that is, whether the material appeals to prurient interest.
The present controversy emanated from the alleged splicing of a video recording wherein petitioner was supposedly made to appear as if he was asking for contributions to raise 37 trillion pesos instead of the allegedly true amount of 3.6 million pesos. The video was played by ministers of Iglesia ni Cristo in their television program “Ang Tamang Daan.”
In response, petitioner Eliseo Soriano, as host of the television program “Ang Dating Daan,” made the following utterances:
Bro. Josel Mallari: Ulit-ulit na iyang talagang kawalanghiyaan na iyan, naku. E, markado nang masyado at saka branded na itong nga ito anong klase po sila. Wala kayong babalikan diyan Kapatid na Manny. Iyang klase ng mga ministro na iyan, pasamain lamang si Kapatid na Eli e pati mga ninakaw na tape, pati mga audio na pinag-edit-edit, lalagyan ng caption para makita nila, maipakita nilang malinaw ‘yung panloloko nila. Kasi Sis. Luz, puwede mo nang hindi lagyan ng caption e, patunugin mo na lang na ganun ang sinasabi. Pero talagang para mai-emphasize nila ‘yung kanilang kawalanghiyaan, lalagyan pa nila ng caption na hindi naman talagang sinabi ni Bro. Eli kundi pinagdugtong lang ‘yung audio.
Bro. Eli Soriano: At saka ang malisyoso. Kitang-kita malisyoso e. Paninirang-puri e. Alam mo kung bakit? Mahilig daw ako talagang manghingi para sa aking pangangailangan. Pangangailangan ko ba ‘yung pambayad sa UNTV e ang mga kontrata diyan ay hindi naman ako kapatid na Josel.
Bro. Josel Mallari: Ay, opo.
Bro. Eli Soriano: Hindi ko kontrata iyang babayaran na iyan. I am not even a signatory to that contract. Pagkatapos para pagbintangan mo ako na humingi ako para sa pangangailangan ko, gago ka talaga Michael. Masahol ka pa sa putang babae. O, di ba? Yung putang babae ang gumagana lang doon yung ibaba, kay Michael ang gumagana ang itaas, o di ba! O, masahol pa sa putang babae yan. Sabi ng lola ko masahol pa sa putang babae yan. Sobra ang kasinungalingan ng mga demonyong ito. Sige, sumagot kayo. At habang ginaganyan ninyo ako, ang mga miyembro ninyo unti-unting maliliwanagan. Makikita n’yo rin, magreresulta ng maganda iyan.
Bro. Manny Catangay Jusay: Bro. Eli, ay iyan nga po ang sinasabi ko e, habang gumagawa sila ng ganyan, gaya nung sinabi nung Kapatid natin kagabi dahil napanood ‘yung kasinungalingan ni Pol Guevarra, ay, lumuluha ‘yung Kapatid, inaanyayahan ‘yung mag-anak niya. Magsialis na kayo diyan. Lipat na kayo rito. Kasi kung nag-iisip lang ang isang Iglesia ni Cristo matapos ninyong mapanood itong episode na ito, iiwanan ninyo e, kung mahal ninyo ang kaluluwa ninyo. Hindi kayo paaakay sa ganyan, nagpafabricate ng mga kasinungalingan. Sabi ko nga lahat ng paraan ng pakikipagbaka nagawa na nila e, isa na lang ang hindi ‘yung pakikipagdebate at patunayan na sila ang totoo. Iyon na lang ang hindi nila nagagawa. Pero demanda, paninirang-puri – nagtataka nga ako e, tayo, kaunting kibot, nakademanda sila e. ‘yung ginagawa nila, ewan ko, idinedemanda n’yo ba Bro. Eli?
The majority opinion ruled that the highlighted portion of the aforequoted speech was obscene and was, therefore, not entitled to constitutional protection.
Well-settled is the rule that speech, to be considered obscene, must appeal to prurient interest as defined in Roth and firmly adopted in our jurisdiction. The subject speech cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be said to appeal to any prurient interest. The highlighted portion of the verbal exchange between the two feuding religious groups is utterly bereft of any tendency to excite lustful thoughts as to be deemed obscene. The majority’s finding of obscenity is clearly untenable.
In contrast, a radio broadcast of a monologue replete with indecent words such as shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits, has been held protected speech depending on the context relating to the time of broadcast. However, in this case before us, the words “putang babae” (female prostitute), and the descriptive action phrases “ang gumagana lang doon yung ibaba” and “kay Michael ang gumagana ang itaas” were enough to constitute outright obscenity for the majority. The majority opinion simply forced these words and phrases into a strained standard formula for censorship. But such overbroad standard must be struck down for it indiscriminately infringes upon free speech.
The subject speech in this case may, at most, be considered indecent speech.
Indecent speech conveyed through the medium of broadcast is a case of first impression in our jurisdiction. However, this issue has been settled in American case law, which has persuasive influence in our jurisprudence. There, the rule is that indecent speech is protected depending on the context in which it is spoken. The concept of what is “indecent” is intimately connected with the exposure of children to language that describes, in terms patently offensive, as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities and organs, at times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.
FCC v. Pacifica Foundation is the landmark U.S. case on the regulation of indecent speech in broadcast. The case involved a radio broadcast of “Filthy Words,” a 12-minute monologue by American stand-up comedian and social critic, George Carlin. Appended to the decision is the following verbatim transcript prepared by the Federal Communications Commission:
The original seven words were, shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Those are the ones that will curve your spine, grow hair on your hands and maybe, even bring us, God help us, peace without honor and a bourbon. And now the first thing that we noticed was that word fuck was really repeated in there because the word motherfucker is a compound word and it’s another form of the word fuck. You want to be a purist, it can’t be on the list of basic words. Also, cocksucker is a compound word and neither half of that is really dirty. The word-the half sucker that’s merely suggestive and the word cock is a half-way dirty word, 50% dirty-dirty half the time, depending on what you mean by it. Uh, remember when you first heard it, like in 6th grade, you used to giggle. And the cock crowed three times, the cock-three times. It’s in the Bible, cock in the Bible. And the first time you heard about a cock-fight, remember-What? Huh? It ain’t that, are you stupid? It’s chickens, you know, Then you have the four letter words from the old Angle-Saxon fame. Uh, shit and fuck. The word shit, uh, is an interesting kind of word in that the middle class has never really accepted it and approved it. They use it like, crazy but it’s not really okay. It’s still a rude, dirty, old kind of gushy word. They don’t like that, but they say it, like, they say it like, a lady now in a middle-class home, you’ll hear most of the time she says it as an expletive, you know, it’s out of her mouth before she knows. She says, Oh shit oh shit, oh shit. If she drops something, Oh, the shit hurt the broccoli. Shit. Thank you.
Shit! I won the Grammy, man, for the comedy album. Isn’t that groovy? That’s true. Thank you. Thank you man. Yeah. Thank you man. Thank you. Thank you very much, man. Thank, no, for that and for the Grammy, man, [‘]cause that’s based on people liking it man, that’s okay man. Let’s let that go, man. I got my Grammy. I can let my hair hang down now, shit. Ha! So! Now the word shit is okay for the man. At work you can say it like crazy. Mostly figuratively, Get that shit out of here, will ya? I don’t want to see that shit anymore. I can’t cut that shit, buddy. I’ve had that shit up to here. I think you’re full of shit myself. He don’t know shit from Shinola. you know that? Always wondered how the Shinola people felt about that Hi, I’m the new man from Shinola, Hi, how are ya? Nice to see ya. How are ya? Boy, I don’t know whether to shit or wind my watch. Guess, I’ll shit on my watch. Oh, the shit is going to hit de fan. Built like a brick shit-house. Up, he’s up shit’s creek. He’s had it. He hit me, I’m sorry. Hot shit, holy shit, tough shit, eat shit. shit-eating grin. Uh, whoever thought of that was ill. He had a shit-eating grin! He had a what? Shit on a stick. Shit in a handbag. I always like that. He ain’t worth shit in a handbag. Shitty. He acted real shitty. You know what I mean? I got the money back, but a real shitty attitude. Heh, he had a shit-fit. Wow! Shit-fit. Whew! Glad I wasn’t there. All the animals-Bull shit, horse shit, cow shit, rat shit, bat shit. First time I heard bat shit, I really came apart. A guy in Oklahoma, Boggs, said it, man. Aw! Bat shit. Vera reminded me of that last night. Snake shit, slicker than owl shit. Get your shit together. Shit or get off the pot. I got a shit-load full of them. I got a shit-pot full, all right. Shit-head, shit-heel, shit in your heart, shit for brains, shit-face. I always try to think how that could have originated; the first guy that said that. Somebody got drunk and fell in some shit, you know. Hey, I’m shit-face. Shit-face, today. Anyway, enough of that shit. The big one, the word fuck that’s the one that hangs them up the most. [‘]Cause in a lot of cases that’s the very act that hangs them up the most. So, it’s natural that the word would, uh, have the same effect. It’s a great word, fuck, nice word, easy word, cute word, kind of. Easy word to say. One syllable, short u. Fuck. You know, it’s easy. Starts with a nice soft sound fuh ends with a kuh. Right? A little something for everyone. Fuck Good word. Kind of a proud word, too. Who are you? I am FUCK, FUCK OF THE MOUNTAIN. Tune in again next week to FUCK OF THE MOUNTAIN. It’s an interesting word too, [‘]cause it’s got a double kind of a life-personality-dual, you know, whatever the right phrase is. It leads a double life, the word fuck. First of all, it means, sometimes, most of the time, fuck. What does it mean? It means to make love. Right? We’re going to make love, yeh, we’re going to fuck, yeh, we’re going to fuck, yeh, we’re going to make love. we’re really going to fuck, yeh, we’re going to make love. Right? And it also means the beginning of life, it’s the act that begins life, so there’s the word hanging around with words like love, and life, and yet on the other hand, it’s also a word that we really use to hurt each other with, man. It’s a heavy one that you have toward the end of the argument. Right? You finally can’t make out. Oh, fuck you man. I said, fuck you. Stupid fuck. Fuck you and everybody that looks like you man. It would be nice to change the movies that we already have and substitute the word fuck for the word kill, wherever we could, and some of those movie cliches would change a little bit. Madfuckers still on the loose. Stop me before I fuck again. Fuck the ump, fuck the ump, fuck the ump, fuck the ump, fuck the ump. Easy on the clutch Bill, you’ll fuck that engine again. The other shit one was, I don’t give a shit. Like it’s worth something, you know? I don’t give a shit. Hey, well, I don’t take no shit, you know what I mean? You know why I don’t take no shit? [‘]Cause I don’t give a shit. If I give a shit, I would have to pack shit. But I don’t pack no shit cause I don’t give a shit. You wouldn’t shit me, would you? That’s a joke when you’re a kid with a worm looking out the bird’s ass. You wouldn’t shit me, would you? It’s an eight-year-old joke but a good one. The additions to the list. I found three more words that had to be put on the list of words you could never say on television, and they were fart, turd and twat, those three. Fart, we talked about, it’s harmless. It’s like tits, it’s a cutie word, no problem. Turd, you can’t say but who wants to, you know? The subject never comes up on the panel so I’m not worried about that one. Now the word twat is an interesting word. Twat! Yeh, right in the twat. Twat is an interesting word because it’s the only one I know of, the only slang word applying to the, a part of the sexual anatomy that doesn’t have another meaning to it. Like, ah, snatch, box and pussy all have other meanings, man. Even in a Walt Disney movie, you can say, We’re going to snatch that pussy and put him in a box and bring him on the airplane. Everybody loves it. The twat stands alone, man, as it should. And two-way words. Ah, ass is okay providing you’re riding into town on a religious feast day. You can’t say, up your ass. You can say, stuff it!
Worthy of note, in Pacifica, the FCC did not resort to any subsequent punishment, much less any prior restraint. The station was not suspended for the broadcast of the monologue, which the U.S. Supreme Court merely considered indecent speech based on the context in which it was delivered. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the monologue would have been protected were it delivered in another context. The monologue was broadcast at 2:00 p.m., when children were presumptively in the audience.
A later case, Action for Children’s Television v. FCC, establishes the safe harbor period to be from 10:00 in the evening to 6:00 in the morning, when the number of children in the audience is at a minimum. In effect, between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., the broadcasting of material considered indecent is permitted. Between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., the broadcast of any indecent material may be sanctioned.
In this case, the subject speech by petitioner was broadcast starting 10:00 p.m. onwards, clearly within the safe harbor period as established in Action for Children’s Television. Correctly applying Pacifica’s context-based ruling, petitioner’s speech, if indeed indecent, enjoys constitutional protection and may not be sanctioned. The rule on this matter, as laid down by Pacifica in relation to Action for Children’s Television, is crystal-clear. But should the majority still have any doubt in their minds, such doubt should be resolved in favor of free speech and against any interference by government. The suspension of “Ang Dating Daan” by the MTRCB was a content-based, not a content-neutral regulation. Thus, the suspension should have been subjected to strict scrutiny following the rule in Chavez v. Gonzales. The test should be strict because the regulation went into the very heart of the rationale for the right to free speech – that speech may not be prohibited just because government officials disapprove of the speaker’s views.
Further, the majority opinion held that even if petitioner’s utterances were not obscene but merely indecent speech, they would still be outside of the constitutional protection because they were conveyed through a medium easily accessible to children. The majority misapplied the doctrine of FCC v. Pacifica, the leading jurisprudence on this matter. Pacifica did not hold that indecent speech, when conveyed through a medium easily accessible to children, would automatically be outside the constitutional protection. On the contrary, the U.S. Supreme Court emphasized the narrowness of its ruling in Pacifica. The guideline that Pacifica laid down is that the broadcast of a monologue containing indecent speech could be considered protected or unprotected depending on the context, that is, the time of the day or the night when the indecent utterances were delivered.
The majority’s ruling in this case sets a dangerous precedent. This decision makes it possible for any television or radio program, on the slightest suspicion of being a danger to national security or on other pretexts, to likewise face suspension. The exacting “clear and present danger” test is dispensed with to give way to the “balancing of interests” test in favor of the government’s exercise of its regulatory power. Granting without conceding that “balancing of interests” is the appropriate test in setting a limitation to free speech, suspension of a television program is a measure way too harsh that it would be inappropriate as the most reasonable means for averting a perceived harm to society. The restriction on freedom need not be greater than is necessary to further the governmental interest.
The “balancing of interests” test requires that a determination must first be made whether the necessary safeguarding of the public interest involved may be achieved by some other measure less restrictive of the protected freedom. The majority immediately resorted to outright suspension without first exploring other measures less restrictive of freedom of speech. It cites MTRCB v. ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation in justifying the government’s exercise of regulatory power. But the ABS-CBN case involved a mere fine as punishment, not a prior restraint in the form of suspension as in this case. In the cited case, one of the episodes of “The Inside Story,” a television program of ABS-CBN, was aired without prior review and approval by the MTRCB. For this omission, the MTRCB subsequently fined ABS-CBN in the amount of P20,000. However, even as the television station was fined, the program continued to be aired and was never suspended.
Indeed, prior restraint by suspension is an extreme measure that may only be imposed after satisfying the “clear and present danger” test, which requires the perceived danger to be both grave and imminent. Prior restraint is simply uncalled for in this case where what is involved is not even obscene speech, but mere indecent speech. Note too, that the subject utterances in this case were broadcast starting 10:00 p.m. onwards, well within the safe harbor period for permissible television broadcast of speech which may be characterized as indecent.
Suspension of the program stops not only petitioner, but also the other leaders of his congregation from exercising their constitutional right to free speech through their medium of choice, which is television. The majority opinion attempts to assuage petitioner’s misery by saying that petitioner can still exercise his right to speak his mind using other venues. But this proposition assumes that petitioner has access to other venues where he may continue his interrupted exercise of free speech using his chosen mode, television broadcast.
While we may not agree with petitioner’s choice of language in expressing his disgust in this word war between two feuding religious groups, let us not forget that freedom of speech includes the expression of thoughts that we do not approve of, not just thoughts that are agreeable. To paraphrase Voltaire: We may disapprove of what petitioner has said, but we must defend to the death his right to say it.
The three-month suspension cannot be passed off merely as a preventive suspension that does not partake of a penalty. The actual and real effect of the three-month suspension is a prior restraint on expression in violation of a fundamental constitutional right. Even Congress cannot validly pass a law imposing a three-month preventive suspension on freedom of expression for offensive or vulgar language uttered in the past. Congress may punish such offensive or vulgar language after their utterance, with damages, fine, or imprisonment; but Congress has no power to suspend or suppress the people’s right to speak freely because of such utterances. In short, Congress may pass a law punishing defamation or tortious speech but the punishment cannot be the suspension or suppression of the constitutional right to freedom of expression. Otherwise, such law would be abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press. If Congress cannot pass such a law, neither can respondent MTRCB promulgate a rule or a decision suspending for three months petitioner’s constitutional right to freedom of speech. And of course, neither can this Court give its stamp of imprimatur to such an unconstitutional MTRCB rule or decision.
I end this dissenting opinion with a reminder from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes – that the market place of ideas is still the best alternative to censorship. The market place of ideas makes freedom of speech robust and allows people to be more tolerant of opposing views. It has been said that freedom of speech is not only to freely express oneself within the context of the law but also to hear what others say, that all may be enlightened, regardless of how obnoxious or erroneous the opposing views may be.
Accordingly, I vote to GRANT the motion for reconsideration.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
 Ordonez v. Director of Prisons, G.R. No. 115576, 4 August 1994, 235 SCRA 152.
 Simone Chambers, Deliberation, Democracy, and the Media, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2000, p. xi.
 Id. at 3.
 Constitution, Article III, Section 4.
 Blo Umpar Adiong v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 103956, 31 March 1992, 207 SCRA 712.
 Joaquin Bernas, S.J. Constitutional Rights and Social Demands, Notes and Cases Part II, 2004. pp. 284-285.
 Social Weather Stations, Inc. v. Commission on Elections, 409 Phil. 571 (2001); Iglesia ni Cristo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 119673, 26 July 1996, 259 SCRA 529 citing Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (1931).
 222 Phil. 151.
 222 Phil. 225.
 L.R. 3 Q.B. 360, 371 (1868).
 209 F. 119, 120 (S.D.N.Y. 1913).
 354 U.S. 476 (1957).
 413 U.S. 15 (1973).
 Gonzales v. Chairman Katigbak, supra note 9.
 Rollo, G.R. No. 164785, pp. 148-153.
 Gonzales v. Chairman Katigbak, supra note 9; Pita v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80806, 5 October 1989, 178 SCRA 362; Fernando v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 159751, 6 December 2006, 510 SCRA 351.
 FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978).
 On 21 February 1975, the Federal Communications Commission issued a declaratory order granting the complaint and holding that Pacifica “could have been the subject of administrative sanctions.” The Commission did not impose formal sanctions, but it did state that the order would be “associated with the station’s license file, and in the event that subsequent complaints are received, the Commission will then decide whether it should utilize any of the available sanctions it has been granted by Congress.”
 58 F.3d 654 (1995).
 G.R. No. 168338, 15 February 2008, 545 SCRA 441.
 See the dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Reynato Puno in this case. Soriano v. Laguardia, G.R. No. 164785, 29 April 2009.
 Social Weather Stations, Inc. v. Commission on Elections, supra note 7.
 Thomas Emerson, Towards a General Theory of the First Amendment, 72 Yale Law Journal 877 (1963).
 489 Phil. 544 (2005).
 Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, No. L-27833, 137 Phil. 471 (1969).
 Dissenting Opinion of Justice Holmes in Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 40 S. Ct. 17, 63 L. Ed. 1173 (1919).
 Ruben Agpalo, Philippine Constitutional Law, 2006, p. 330.
The preacher had been accused of rape by one he had excommunicated and who readily went to the church group of his arch enemy. That was the pattern ever since: One gets excommunicated from The Old Path (ADD) and went straight to the INC to assume a series of legal battles.
Intentional manipulation of data for selective perception to mislead the public and pre-judge the subject.
By Jake Astudillo
Manila, Philippines, (01/07/2010) -News is information about recent events. The reporter then is expected to relay it as objectively as he can in reproducing the event.
Videos can do the same thing but the reproduction of events is done through images. The objectivity is also expected to be there if the video is supposed to deal with information. That is the reason the images are not to be tampered with so that truth can be established.
The danger comes in when news is made into videos. As such, news is not text anymore as manipulation is done into its many parts. The structure is mangled and whatever truth it carries is morphed. It is now picture over text; however, the video comes in the guise of news. It is intentionally manipulated for selective perception to mislead the public and pre-judge the subject.
For example, some parts of the text are enlarged as the camera zooms in, and some are relegated to the background as fine print. Other elements come into play to satisfy the motive as text become pictures and put life into the otherwise neutral text. Sounds and motion complete the evil design. It is not anymore news that you watch but it gives the impression that it is so.
Being charged of a case, for example, is not equivalent to conviction. However, the author of such video cum news in the manipulation of text may mislead the public that it is so.
Take the case of the story written by Allison Lopez of the Philippine Daily Inquirer titled, “Ely Soriano charged with falsification of public document” (08/29/2008). It was made into a video presentation and is all over the Internet, planted in all possible sites like an advertisement.
The news report was very much underwritten. Much information was suppressed. And yet it was made into video.
The news reporter, Allison Lopez, could have done her work better she had exerted effort to learn more about “the raped man.” Was Daniel “Puto” Veridiano really raped? Wasn’t he the one who raped 14 of his officemates? Though he had admitted to only 9, many others claim Puto molested them over the years he was around. The Internet is there for Lopez to watch for some evidence, had she done her part.
Also, Allison Lopez had no background on this case that was dismissed but re-filed by Sec. of Justice Raul Gonzalez himself who is not in any way connected with the case. Lopez did not mention that. There were a lot she had suppressed.
The telltale spelling, “Ely,” is an INC trademark that does not hide Allison Lopez and her connections. INC stands for Iglesia ni Cristo that cannot sleep over the many revelations of the mouth that cannot stop: the mouth of Bro. Eliseo Soriano.
And for the man whom Allison Lopez claimed had fabricated documents, all the time since 2005, he was away from his country, the Philippines. How can he fabricate any document then?
Soriano is known as the nemesis of false preachers. Earning the ire of many who wanted to make money out of religion, he had come to a dangerous level: getting himself as Wanted Person in the Interpol site, at the same time being tagged with a ridiculous crime: “Sex crimes.” How that came to be is a puzzle, with so-called media men with INC connections playing the game of accuser and judge. It was only that the preacher stayed far away and went about his work in whatever forms technology could offer: He still preached via satellite wherever he was. But his enemies also worked. With him gone, they spread word that his congregation was fast dissipating but he proved them wrong.
While Soriano’s enemies kept saying he was on the run, he was busy as ever, working on the war victims of South America. He beams now that although admittedly religious persecution figured in his exile, “This is the work of God; these people are hungry for God’s word” he said. Claiming it was not Manalo of the INC who had caused him to go on exile, he says he does not feel bad anymore. Relating the story of Joseph who was sold by his very brothers to the Egyptians out of jealousy, he says he now understands why he had to leave for foreign shores. “Let me show you,” he says and out come Latinas playing the guitar and singing Tagalog praise songs. The camera spans some more and shows hundreds of foreigners getting baptized and giving testimony to a changed life. They embrace him like hungry souls having found a gem after so long a time of famine.
The preacher had been accused of rape by one he had excommunicated and who readily went to the church group of his arch enemy. That was the pattern ever since: One gets excommunicated from The Old Path (ADD) and went straight to the INC to assume a series of legal battles. The irony is that while in The Old Path (ADD) Jesus Christ is spirit and is the wisdom of God and son of God, with the INC, Jesus is mere human being, was a human being, and will come back a human being. The jump from one belief to another is appalling.
Bro. Eli would exhort the Filipinos at home lest they be thinking of revenge: “Love your fellowmen. The accusations against me are not surprising. I have done nothing wrong to anybody. I had been helping even those who accuse me. The prophets of old had been treated the same way. Jesus Christ had been treated worse. I am less than they are, yet these things are expected.”
Preacher Soriano left his country, the Philippines, in December 2005. Concentrating later his preaching on foreign shores, he had all the more enlarged the congregation of The Old Path (Ang Dating Daan) or Members Church of God International to mammoth proportions. The ever widening Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, north of Manila, stands to be the biggest in the whole of Asia, and every week there are baptisms all over the globe. He preaches to his people via satellite simulcast through 6 continents.
Lately, Bro. Eliseo Soriano’s Truth blog (http://esoriano.wordpress.com) won in the Mashable’s Open Web Awards for 2010 in the Most Educational to Follow category. It was not the first time though that this blog has earned an award. His blog was the People’s choice awardee in the 2009 Philippine Web Awards in the blog category. More than that, Soriano’s blog was the awardee for the most popular website, besting all others in all categories.
August 4, 2011 UPDATE: THIS EPISODE WAS REPLAYED BY GMANews TV11 on August 3, 2011 in their noontime show.
The following is an analysis of that Case Unclosed episode of June 18, 2009 aired by GMA7 and replayed by GMANEWS TV11 on August 3, 2011 that discussed the rape case filed by an excommunicated member of ADD against Bro. Eli Soriano. It is written from the perspective that the ADD feel their leader is trapped in a context of convoluted systems: broadcast network fight for audience ratings, influence of a rival church group over the media and the courts, personalities’ climb to promotion and prominence, and probably secret envy nursed for a long time. Some background of the events that followed are sandwiched for balance – things that Case Unclosed could not provide. The instrument in all this syndrome is one cast away by the ADD for spiritual filth and fully accepted by the INC – Daniel Veridiano alias Puto. Puto gets to persecute the man whose influence he had been using, whose identity he had been stealing, whose blessings he readily enjoyed. He gets organizations to fight Soriano for his being “raped,” rapist that he himself is. He had the local courts of Pampanga behind him, the Department of Justice, the Interpol. Most recent in the queue is GMA7. The question that perplexes ADD is why this rascal is getting everything for himself and yet is going scotfree. Meanwhile, the evangelist-in-a-hurry is leaving it all to his lawyers, and continues preaching worldwide while people think he should come home to face this mocked-up rape case against him. Case Unclosed that presented Soriano as making himself scarce, however, is not entitled to discuss the case. Nevertheless, Arnold Clavio, the host of the program, went ahead and aired his half-a-data. Soriano earlier said he is determined to face the International Court of Human Rights if given the chance.
By Jane Abao
Manila, Philippines (July 20, 2009) – That GMA7 is a “house of truth” is a lie, an untruth, a falsehood, a tall tale. This sums up the opinions of the church group belonging to Members Church of God International (MCGI) or Ang Dating Daan (ADD) as it is more popularly known, particularly on the presentation of GMA7 in one of its programs. The program was unfair and more yet, the station acted as a vehicle to spread more lies, the ADD said.
The news tagline of this TV channel says, “Not siding with anyone; not protecting anyone; just genuine service.” In Tagalog, it is “Walang Kinikilingan, Walang Pinoprotektahan, Serbisyong Totoo lamang.” However, GMA7 has done the opposite. To the Ang Dating Daan, it presented just one side and risked the rights of the other. Most of all, GMA7 has lined up itself with the forces made willing tools in the persecution of the ADD leader, Bro. Eliseo Soriano.
On the night of June 18, 2009, Case Unclosed, a program of GMA7 tackled the double rape case filed against Bro. Soriano by someone he had excommunicated sometime in August 2005. The program extended to an hour with just Daniel Veridiano alias Puto presenting his side of the case.
Soriano, the Presiding Minister of the MCGI or Ang Dating Daan booted out Veridiano from the congregation after some reports of serial rape and exorbitant unauthorized use of church funds for personal wants.
The accuser’s admission
Veridiano admitted sexually abusing 9 among the 14 that were complaining in a confession letter he signed November 21, 2004 to two ministers of the Church. Incidentally, in his bid to be lifted off his suspension of Church membership, Veridiano found himself being videoed during the investigation process, the results of which were to be presented to the Presiding Minister for his decision-making. In that investigation, Veridiano was asked why he was admitting to only 9; he said he cannot anymore recall (“Hindi ko na matandaan”). After some months of observation and upon the recommendation of an investigation panel, Veridiano was excommunicated.
In the Church, suspension is also observation time for repentance and for express changes in one’s life. Failing that, a member maybe excommunicated; and once excommunicated, one cannot appeal. This was the case of Veridiano who went to the fold of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) that readily took him in. Earlier however, when he was under suspension and appealing to be taken back, Puto said, “I will not join them; it would be a quick jump to hell.”
The members of Ang Dating Daan were surprised that GMA7 would be presenting as resource person the one they knew as Puto – a professional liar, a rapist, and one excommunicated from the Church for filthy living and failure to reform. Moreover, the program gave the opportunity for Puto to give out more lies and spew more made-up stories against Preacher Soriano who is out of the country since 2005. In such an instance the ADD felt twice aggrieved.
Closing the eyes
Despite the fact that Puto admitted raping some of his subordinates as posted in YouTube, Arnold Clavio chose to close his eyes and instead honored Puto, as a credible witness. It was not even one, or two, or three victims for Puto whom Soriano said was given many chances to change. If Clavio failed to watch Puto’s admission and if he failed to watch the raped boys describe in YouTube Veridiano’s penis with a round “o” with such and such a short length, then Clavio clearly had not done his research before airing his program.
Clavio was the host of that Case Unclosed program of GMA7, obviously shown with careless abandon like it was safe to hit Preacher Soriano and get away with it unscathed. Never did Clavio try to establish the credibility of his resource person by challenging his statements. For that program, Clavio simply let the statements of Veridiano pass – a no-no for investigative journalism. For example, Clavio did not bother asking why Veridiano was excommunicated from the church and if that was true. Clavio should have done that for the audience if he wanted to show even a semblance of fairness.
Clavio began it all like he had no obligation to hear the other side of the story. There was no hedging from Clavio’s episode of patches, mostly made to magnify the picture of an oppressed “raped man.”
If Arnold Clavio did not know it yet, there is a full coverage of this “raped man for whom Interpol would mobilize.” The star of the moment some few years back enjoyed his brief exposure to prominence when earlier, the powers of the Iglesia ni Cristo got the Interpol to post Soriano’s bio as a Wanted Person. The attempts at Interpol-assistance obviously failed the Iglesia ni Cristo for by that time, Bro. Eliseo Soriano had come to be known as TruthCaster and that his international activities only involved the propagation of the words of God – contrary to “sex crimes” that the INC had wanted the Interpol to believe.
Using now the memory lanes of a supposed helpless victim, Clavio’s voice boomed – “Daniel said he could not forget that afternoon of May 17, 2000 when he was called by the leader of the religion that he was a member of….”
Veridiano’s voice came on and right away planted a “teaching of Ang Dating Daan” that is false and unheard of: “There is a teaching in Dating Daan that a messenger of God does not sin, whatever he does to you. At that time, I feared him greatly because whatever he asks from you, you must oblige. You need to oblige; if not, it is as if you get cursed; as if something grave will happen to you if you do not do what he requires you to do – this so-called messenger of God.”
Video clips of the preacher came on, followed by Arnold Clavio’s vioice: “The one being pointed to by Daniel that had abused him: the leader of Ang Dating Daan, Bro. Eliseo ‘Eli’ Soriano.”
The problem with that denial is that it is not telling the truth. The ADD thinks the presentation is biased; it is intrusive. The case is still open. You cannot right that wrong with a second part on another date and say it is the continuation of the previous one. One does not chop matters of contention between two parties on separate dates. Principles of communication declare that such action is unfair, inequitable, and lacking of correct judgment of timing and impartial audience impact.
It is after all what an Arnold Clavio seemed to project in that program: that he had no qualms about it if he was to be viewed as partial. Twice Puto was allowed to say “If only he is here, he would be behind bars. It cannot be that he will not.”
To the ADD members still boycotting this network, Arnold Clavio does not know his Journalism. Had he done his research well, he would have known what Bro. Soriano was saying as “Sub judice.” Soriano cannot comment as the case (dismissed but re-filed) was pending. Therefore, it was not even a proper item for Case Unclosed because it is not of the vintage kind.
Knowing that he only had a half part of the whole thing, Clavio went ahead and aired it. Granted that the case may be discussed, if he had to deal with two sides, why did he present one ahead of the other? Doesn’t Clavio know that June 18, 2009 is not the same as another future date if he had to present the other half? How sure was he that the sample of the people who saw his first part will be the same sample seeing his second part? Moreover, how much time-gap would there be between the first presentation and a subsequent one if ever there would be one? Is that what he can call a presentation with a level-playing field?
Doesn’t Clavio know that if he had to get data from people, he is not to get them by force? Is he already treating Soriano as the guilty party and Veridiano as an innocent victim? To add insult to injury, Clavio ended the program with these words: “Although Bro. Eli Soriano insists that the accusations against him are simply lies, his appearance and his facing his case are hoped to clear out the questions left unanswered.”
A program with legal elements like Case Unclosed must have someone there with enough legal background. But as it is, Clavio had risked the network’s reputation with ignorance. Most of the ADD comments ask GMA7 management that Arnold Clavio be axed from that channel. The structure of Clavio’s presentation also shows he does not know much about broadcasting. That he was only presenting what was written for him as a script is no excuse.
Right from the start, the episode impressed the audience of presenting only the side of the “raped man,” as if to make the ADD regret they had not issued any statement for Arnold Clavio.
Clavio was quick to say they tried to get the side of the ADD regarding the case of Veridiano but could not get any response. However, knowing full well that he only had data from one side, Clavio went ahead and aired the program. That he was not able to get a response was already license to air to this Clavio.
Infractions of good practice in journalism
There were many infractions of good practice in journalism noticed by the ADD members.
Clavio disregarded challenging his resource person that Soriano could not be around Apalit at 1:30 in the afternoon of May 17, 2000 considering that he was under treatment in Manila in the morning and then traveled to Lipa for a bible exposition afterwards. Aside from a patient’s registration copy, Soriano has a copy of the venue permit used during that day. If he really wanted to be objective, Clavio should have interviewed the two doctors of the Biological Center mentioned as having treated Bro. Soriano that day which was why Soriano could not be in Apalit raping Veridiano.
When Veridiano denied his signature appearing in the confession letter about raping 9 males, Clavio did not try to establish if Veridiano was lying or not. Again, if he had wanted to play fair, and to establish Veridiano’s credibility, Clavio should have interviewed those boys raped by Veridiano. The names are there in that confession letter. In Youtube, these boys gave out their testimonies against Veridiano and what he did to them. One was even just 17 that time and until now, he appears shocked, talking very little as much as possible.
The ADD members note that it is not easy for rape victims to come out to the public and admit they were raped – much more by one rascal like Puto. And yet they had to do it and make use of the Internet for failing to get justice in the kind of courts obtaining in the country.
And now, GMA7 is a House of Truth?
Baloney! says the Ang Dating Daan. The news tagline, “Not siding with anyone; not protecting anyone; just genuine service” is a lie.
For the way it has behaved, GMA7 should be ashamed enough and change that tagline because it does not become them, the members said.
Moreover, the question of the ADD until now is, “What the blazes is GMA7 glorifying a liar for?”
Puto, the “raped man,” lies
There is no such teaching in Ang Dating Daan that anyone can make demands and oppress the other – much more by the leader who teaches righteousness. Puto was lying.
Puto was excommunicated in August 2005 for filthy living; he did not leave ADD all by his own. In fact, he made attempts to be taken in but didn’t pass it. His signature in that confession letter is genuine; it was not faked by anyone. The challenge from ADD is for Clavio and the public to view Puto online. A video-taped recording in YouTube may be used to triangulate data about his confession of serial rape. From there, the public can see if anyone fed those admission words into his mouth. From there, Arnold Clavio can see if he had an innocent “raped man” not lying to him.
Puto may deny everything to get the Iglesia ni Cristo to use him still as a lying witness against Soriano. In that same video, however, Veridiano damned the Iglesia ni Cristo as satanic and with false teachings so that going there is equivalent to going to hell. Not for long, however, Puto was heard attending INC services.
Other lies that Veridiano alias Puto said over GMA7 were that he had been “writer-editor of Ang Dating Daan Magazine.” There is no magazine with such name. Records have it that Puto attempted to handle a magazine called TOP (The Old Path). During one of the national thanksgiving days, Ryan Borja, an assistant to Puto then, approached a professional journalist from Mindanao and showed her a copy. The journalist laughed and asked Borja how come the magazine looked that way. “Can you help us?” asked Borja. During breaktime, the journalist went from cover to cover, red-penciled the pages, and returned it to Borja.
Bro. Eli saw the red-markings, studied it, and called for a meeting, angry at what he saw. After that, the issue was shelved and the management of the magazine was transferred from Puto’s office to ADDCaption, another office that started its own maiden issue. Puto’s work did not pass. He never had been a writer-editor for ADD.
Puto also bragged in Clavio’s program that the Attendance Monitoring System was his idea. Jay Jimenez, former head of the ADD Communications, Information, and Technology (ADDCIT) denies that the Attendance Monitoring System (AMS) was Puto’s idea. This was the statement of Jimenez:
“The Computerized attendance monitoring system was the idea of Bro. Daniel Razon, including that of the Internet webcast. Actually we started the IT of the church since 1999, and we had designed the first website of angdatingdaan.org already before Puto came in.
“Because of Puto’s envy to us, he took over our group and he absorbed us. At that time, he was a worker typist of Bro. Eli. He promised us support by providing the infrastructures needed for websites and webcast. He formed ADD Correspondents July 20, 2000. We were the pioneers.
“Daniel is just a typist – fast typist! In fairness, fastest typist ever! Dapat sa gilid siya ng SEC magwork, yung nag tatype ng mga documents dun; o di kaya sa quiapo, yung taga type ng mga thesis ng mga estudyante (Trans: He should work at the side of SEC among those typing documents there; if not in Quiapo, among those typing thesis for students.)”
Grabbing credit for Puto is something not to be ashamed of, just as lying is. Ever since, the idea man in ADD is Daniel Razon. He is responsible for most of the conception of ADD projects.
Puto also said he was an “Assistant Secretary General.” Bro. Soriano had already clarified in court even that there is no assistant general secretary position in the church. The structure of the church is such that it does not need a Secretary General – more so an assistant general secretary.
“In the ministry, in teaching, I was the one in charge before Soriano would teach,” Puto claimed. As everyone in the ministerial class knows, Puto’s work in this area was merely in assisting or in checking that sitting and equipment arrangements were in order. While he wanted to impress people that he can preach as well as or better than the ministers, his work was no different from a janitor.
To be minister had long been a dream of Puto which he never got in the ADD. Would-be ministers in ADD are being well screened. Spiritual growth for Puto was a question that even in leading prayers, the task had been taken off him.
“June 8, 2001, it was my spiritual birthday. He called for me and I thought he would give me a gift. For all I knew, it was another of those things he did to me last year,” Puto said.
Veridiano, alias Puto, mentioned about a second count of rape on June 8, 2001. As written earlier in ADD newsreports, Soriano had testified in court that he went with Rico Fernandez to the office of one Ma. Evangeline Veloira in a bank located in Bambang, Manila. They then proceeded to Sushimoto Restaurant to meet a certain Aida P. Briones, an accountant recommended by Veloira regarding the loan transaction they were applying for. As publicly known, the preacher is known for gallantly financing big church projects which explains the growth of the congregation to an international scope. The transaction was held from 12noon to 4pm. Veridiano said he was raped around 3:00 in the afternoon that day.
The investigating prosecutor found no probable cause to prosecute Soriano as he believed that Veridiano’s accusations were all lies and fabricated. The case was filed sometime before October 5, 2005 and 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 court highly considered the rift going on between the INC and the ADD.
Arnold Clavio and his lines
Some lines of Arnold Clavio need a second look because they encouraged the lies of Puto.
Arnold Clavio: “According to Daniel, still he was not able to fight him.”
Anyone who knows Bro. Eli Soriano would know something is wrong with this statement. It does not fit into the paradigm that is the man leading the Church and who has love immeasurable for the brethren but ready anger for a fake brother exposed for his wrongdoings. The members have seen Soriano react in diverse situations mostly in consultation sessions through satellite system that they can easily predict his behavior in most situations. From what they know of his character, Soriano would be the first one to get angry with a brother found doing wrong. Moreover, it is impossible that Soriano could be raping anybody and still retain that unequaled understanding of the Bible that he is well-known for. For the man who keeps warning that the wicked cannot understand, it is impossible that he could explain the deepest mysteries in the Bible in an unending fashion like drawing from an eternal spring, if he is that wicked. Soriano’s energies are dedicated towards propagating the words of God and studying for it – if not cooking for big crowds of members and guests. Puto’s organ or that of anyone else would not even be the last of his interests. Soriano’s sights are trained on his commission for which he is ever in a hurry. “We have to be part of those who will fulfill prophecy,” he would say to the congregation.
No one is like a prisoner in Apalit like Puto wanted to convey. In fact, instead of attending church functions, Puto takes pleasure trips to famous beaches of the country, charged to a credit card meant for the church – a card which he abused to include beautifying his new face. No member’s mouth is ordered closed that he cannot talk of what is right and proper. Puto, himself, knows that. The preacher would often warn the brethren that those who keep secret the wrong doings of others would suffer consequences too. Soriano even said that had the brothers exposed Puto much earlier, he would not have become that worse. Since Puto was one working closely with Bro. Eli, people feared to report his wrong doings. It was Puto who used his influence and used it wrongly. He would threaten those he aggrieved with suspensions and excommunication. His typing work involved preparing Church circulars.
Arnold Clavio: “It was year 2004 when Daniel Veridiano decided to leave the ADD Convention Center.”
At this time, Puto was suspended as a member and was placed under observation. He knew that his case was heavy and came in multiple levels: illicit sex, wide-spread thievery, misuse of a credit card meant for the church, identity theft, possession of porno materials and a penis-enlarger that told much of his promiscuous gay activities. Puto lived hardly a Christian life to be able to hold on to an ADD membership.
Arnold Clavio: “He hid for a while. He broke his silence in September 2005. He gave his statements in the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pampanga about the abuse made on him. It was Atty. Alex Avisado and some others in his office that handled the case of Daniel.”
Puto did not go into hiding. It is not the practice of ADD to hunt for people – more so when one is declared spiritually sick. The members would keep a distance – as far away as possible.
Instead of hiding, Puto walked around for help in the ADD. He tried to get two ministers to back him up in his bid to return to the ADD. When the findings from an investigating panel came out, Puto failed to meet the mark. In August 2005, he was finally expelled. At that same time he was reported to be attending church gatherings of the Iglesia ni Cristo.
The Gumaru paragraph sprouting
Arnold Clavio: “According to the Bureau of Immigration, December 14, 2005, flight PR501 of Philippine Airlines going to Singapore was the last list recording the name of Bro. Eli. That is why according to the lawyers of Daniel, it is impossible that the Manila Police District reported that Bro. Eli surrendered in 2008 to PO3 Jun Gumaru of Pandacan Police. Accordingly, it was Gumaru who processed the application of Soriano to pay bail. It was reported that he did not tell his supervisors so that Gumaru was placed under investigation that is being held until now. There was an order of release also that the Branch 26 of Manila Regional Trial Court issued for Eli Soriano. It was written there that he had paid a bail of P240, 000, and was signed by Jun Gumaru.”
No matter how untrue this surrender-to-Gumaru is, the Iglesia ni Cristo members blazed the media with it, pinning falsification of documents on “Ely” Soriano wherever they could get their hands on. The story was poorly written by a certain Allison Lopez of Philippine Daily Inquirer on August 29, 2008 and then posted in Scribd.com. Lopez appeared to have used INC sources with the tell-tale “Ely” name that INCs insist on calling the preacher. She also showed no background knowledge of the case as if it were just the beginning.
Just the same, the paragraph on Gumaru from the story of Lopez transformed into a video piece. Cut out from the whole story, it highlighted Gumaru’s denial that an Eliseo Soriano had surrendered to him. The intention of those who had re-produced this paragraph into video items, cut out from the whole story, was clearly to let the public believe that Soriano is found guilty of falsification of documents in the Philippines. They made a feast of it. All the while, Soriano was out of the country.
Though taken out of context, this paragraph cum video piece is embedded in many blogs of INC local members and foreigners in the Internet, whether they discussed astronomy or music, but not Philippine conditions. When queried about what they knew about the case, they kept mum about it. INC posters like Rizalino L. Arrabis and Conrad J. Obligacion took turns taunting Soriano of that “falsification charge” in news sites all over the Internet, most prominently in NowPublic.com and Topix.net.
Many other incognito INC sympathizers did the same just as they did when Interpol posted Soriano’s bio as one of those wanted. The first who made news out of this was Alfred P. Dalizon of World News Journal Online on August 8, 2008. Dalizon’s links with the INC showed when he wrote that Soriano is a former INC member and Veridiano alias Puto, instead of being excommunicated from the ADD, was merely going back to his former church, the INC. Dalizon also wrote that Soriano is a fugitive, is on a Red Notice and an international warrant of arrest – contrary to definitions of the Interpol on “fugitive” and “Red Notice.” Furthermore, Dalizon in his half-baked news carried only blind items, never having a name for “police authorities” that he kept mentioning as his source. Nevertheless, Dalizon’s story was honored as a reference in Wikipedia on the much public-edited bio of Soriano that appeared like it is describing an entirely different person.
Incidentally, there are many hate blogsites against Bro. Soriano by as many as 50, initiated and supported by Ka Webspy (Real name: Sustines E. Laplana), a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo. The contents consist of twisting the preaching of the preacher and maligning him in every way possible.
From history, the Ang Dating Daaan began as a small group catering to Philippine membership only in its incipient years in the 1980s. Today, the ADD Convention Center, the biggest convention center in Asia, houses an average of 70,000 people every week for its thanksgiving functions, and that is for Apalit alone. With Bro. Soriano working feverishly outside the country, membership has truly become international and church locales have been established in six continents. Soriano preaches to them simulcast through satellite systems every Saturday and every International Thanksgiving days.
Every Friday, thousands get baptized from diverse religious groups to an annual average of 20,000 in the country alone and another set of thousands abroad – including those from the Iglesia ni Cristo who obviously blame Soriano for their dwindling membership. This is the group that refuses to take the criticisms of the preacher without striking back by way of filing court cases and using the excommunicated members as witnesses; by way of raids; and by way of using the influence of their members in the courts to intervene in judicial processes.
ADD: Principle of no revenge
Nevertheless, the unity and strength of the ADD had been tested through the years – not by their growing numbers but by following the spiritual principles taught to them by their leader. This is noted in their remarkable policy of not taking any revenge. The principle is to let God take charge.
This was tested so many times when the Iglesia ni Cristo through the NBI under the leadership of Director Gen. ReynaldoWycoco, himself an INC member, in February 1-2, 2002 raided the ADD Convention Center just for a case of libel; when the INC hoodlums hit the ADD brothers near Jollibee Restaurant in Apalit, Pampanga on April 18, 2005; when the ADD Convention Center was raided by the local police that belonged to the INC in search for their minster, Abner Martizano, who joined the ADD in 2005; and when clearly an INC deacon was implicated in the April 27, 2008 death of Marcos Mataro, a UNTV host that hit hard on the INCs in his “dX-man”program.
The Jollibee encounter between ADD brothers and INCs was misreported inAbsoluteAstronomy.com as a free-for-all initiated by Marcos Mataro, an ADD member but a former INC. It did not report that ADD brothers were badly browbeaten by the INCs and in the courts, they were accused as the perpetrators instead of the other way around. Ref: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Iglesia_ni_Cristo
Public news have it that Nickson Icao and Felizardo “Ka Zaldy” Lumagham, both of Macabebe, Pampanga and who claim to be members of INC, (the latter, a deacon) were charged before the San Fernando prosecutors office for the death of Marcos Mataro. Until now, however, both persons have yet to be accounted for.
The real House of Truth
The GMA network counts its age today as 59 glorious years, chalking March 1, 1950 as its day of birth. Over the air lanes, this giant broadcast network proudly banners itself as “House of Truth,” (Tahanan ng katotohanan). And GMA7 is part of them.
As far as the Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) is concerned, GMA is one broadcast network that cannot be trusted for its branding and its news taglines. It thrives in hollow branding to sell itself without truly working. Calling itself “house of truth,” it does not offer genuine service beyond mere reproduction of news events and even that is questionable.
To reckon, is GMA of the likes of UNTV – the public service channel? By all counts, GMA cannot equal the humanitarian services given by UNTV that is strongly supported by Bro. Soriano – one whose public image GMA7 recently compromised. Soriano’s works include the several orphanages in the country, the feeding programs among depressed areas, the medical and dental missions, the transient houses, the free bus rides; and some of these, he does through UNTV. In effect, UNTV does not merely produce news unlike GMA – and that’s what is genuine service.
And to top it all, as far as information is concerned, Soriano works for the propagation of God’s words and the teaching of truth for the salvation of souls. This he does in the country strongly through UNTV. People need to know how to live properly according to Soriano, which is why he preaches 24/7 wherever he can, to include UNTV. No gyrating lewd bodies; no nonsense programs – just plain public service.
Inside the country, Soriano has “adopted” the poor and the outcast of the society – things that politicians should be doing. Outside the country, Soriano has “adopted” victims of war and racism and gave them hope through teaching God’s word. All in all, it is truth that Bro. Eli Soriano deals with – day in and day out. In the Church of God which is the House of God, truth is the service. The Church of God is appropriately the House of Truth – not GMA.
To call itself then as “House of Truth” is for GMA to go over bounds. Branding to this network is hollow, without truth, and more of a habit. In effect, GMA comes out with bubble branding: one blast and it bursts to nothing.
The Razon experience
So, is this network not really siding with anyone as promised by its news tagline?
Sometime in 2005, Daniel Razon, the Vice Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God International or ADD had the same taste of fate as that of Bro. Soriano, Razon’s uncle and partner in Church ministry. Razon was then a co-anchor of Arnold Clavio in Unang Hirit, GMA7’s morning show. Razon is now UNTV executive and is blessed with many opportunities to grow while Clavio stayed where he stays until now. The ADD wonder if Clavio secretly looks at Soriano as he does Razon today, his former colleague and now his rival in the industry. Years back in 2005 when Razon was in GMA7, Management asked him for alternatives: to refrain from mentioning the Iglesia ni Cristo or to resign. He chose the latter in what he called a choice for his God and not for his job. Dindo M. Balares wrote about this in Manila Bulletin (June 16, 2005) and can be found here: http://www.articlearchives.com/entertainment-arts/broadcasting-industry-television/458213-1.html
The ADD members said if GMA7 broke their tagline promise of not siding with anyone by pushing out Razon, one of their very own anchors to please the Iglesia ni Cristo, how much more others like Bro. Soriano who is an outsider.
Some sectors of the ADD still believe that GMA7 has somehow compromised Bro. Soriano’s public image in its audience ratings’ fight with ABS-CBN. However, GMA7 made a wrong decision if courting this audience is their target in their controversial topics. The ADD are still on boycott. The ADD is a growing force that can be counted on in any elections, much more in broadcast audience ratings.
Bro. Soriano left the country in a huff in late 2005 when reports from the enemy camp said his life was in danger and his quest for justice was nil. As observed by the preacher, the justice system in the country is such that in Pampanga where the rape case was filed and dismissed, and then re-filed by then Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzalez, the prosecutors keep on changing. One week after a pronouncement of judgment against Bro. Soriano, another prosecutor comes in. And then another. In fact, this rape case is one for the Guinness Book of Records, and is a recommended case study for all students of Law. There are so many meddlers but Soriano sees the hand of the Iglesia ni Cristo in it – they who keep no secret about their hatred for Soriano through the pronouncements of the INC ministers in Net25. Soriano is the most vocal critic of the Iglesia ni Cristo.
GMA7: advancing the “raped man’s” cause
The same “raped man,” now a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo, was also used to get the Interpol’s intervention to get Soriano behind bars, the failed mission of which the ADD interprets is the present task of GMA7. In his program, Clavio had underscored that nothing could be done while Soriano is out of the country according to Puto’s lawyers. To get Soriano behind bars, GMA7 would then use a professional liar because no one in his right sense would accuse Soriano of rape, let alone raping a rapist.
Finally, Arnold Clavio contradicted himself. While he explained that there is no extradition treaty between the Philippines and Brazil, and that a Red Notice of the Interpol is not an International Arrest Warrant, at the same time he said of Soriano, “he can be arrested for the meantime and an extradition can be worked out for him.” Quoting the lawyers or not, Clavio is not careful which information to propagate or not.
By this time, Bro. Soriano is thinking the world must be crazy to believe he would rape a rapist – most of all a rapist of not only 9 but more! His enemies are that corrupt of imagination.
The insistence of the Iglesia ni Cristo to pin a rape case on Bro. Eli is interpreted by the ADD as a cosmeticizing effort meant to restructure the much tarnished image of Felix Manalo, their so-called “messenger of God.” In his bible expositions, whenever he is asked about Felix Manalo, Bro. Eli would speak of him as a rapist, not worth a man to be speaking the words of God which Manalo mixes with many lies to hold on to his members. But Soriano is not speaking from mere hearsay.
Rape and INC’s Manalo
In a 1954 newspaper called “The Bombshell,” Joe Cruz serialized the immoral escapades of Felix Manalo and included the court cases wherein he was tried, foremost of which was the Rosita Trillanes case. Manalo had been convicted in court in the 1950s for raping Rosita Trillanes, a deaconess. It was this Rosita, according to Cruz, who had revealed to the INC what this supposed messenger did to women of their church. The Court of Appeals sided with Rosita. The court had established the immoral activities of Felix Manalo. Rosita’s story of how Manalo raped her was published in the Philippine Official Gazette, Vol. 1, July, 1942. She also mentioned about the other women abused by Manalo.
Records have it that accusations of sexual immorality plagued Felix Manalo throughout his life. In a decision by the Court of Appeals, in the case of “The People vs. Rosita Trillanes” published in July 1942, the Justices gave an extremely unfavorable estimate of Manalo’s character stating:
“…Manalo, took advantage of his position as head of the Iglesia ni Cristo, and…employed religion as a cloak to cover his…immoral practices; that he pretended to be the Messias sent by God; and that to persuade his victims, he cited the example of Solomon and his many wives.” (Source: Official Gazette, Volume 1 No. 7, July 1942, pages 393-395.)
Manila, Philippines (July, 1, 2009) – A giant TV network used a self-confessed serial rapist as a resource person recently to discuss a pending case he had filed against a fearless preacher known for exposing false practices.
GMA7, considered the biggest among TV networks in the country used Daniel Veridiano alias Puto as a resource person in an episode in Case Unclosed, a program in GMA7 the night of June 18, 2009.
Veridiano claimed that the preacher, Bro. Eliseo Soriano, raped him on two counts – in 2000 and in 2001. Soriano is the Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God, International (MCGI) or Ang Dating Daan (ADD) as known to the public. Tagged as “the most sensible preacher in our time,” a bible scholar so adept in biblical teachings that any question could be asked of him, he has become an international evangelist since 2005.
With the West as his present focus, Soriano has tremendously increased the membership of the MCGI or ADD in six continents with the effective use of technology. Known as TruthCaster for his biblical expositions, foreigners have largely come to know him through Truth in Focus, a compact disk reproduction of his discussions on the Word of God. Soriano’s preachings therefore have reached remote places like those in South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
Veridiano filed his complaint after a lapse of some 5 years when he could not be admitted back to the folds of the Church and subsequently left for the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) that readily accepted him. Preacher Soriano is considered the most vocal critic of the INC and Veridiano knew that.
According to court records that first dismissed the case, Veridiano is “indisputably ill-motivated from the inception” which is why he had filed the case. Soriano said Veridiano is retaliating for being excommunicated.
As penned by Alexandro Lopez, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Region III, San Fernando, Pampanga and as approved by Jesus Y. Manarang, the Provincial Prosecutor: “The foregoing facts, together with the rift going on between the INC and the ADD, which we cannot deny, only show that the complainant was indisputably ill-motivated from the inception, and these necessarily, without any scintilla of doubt, substantially affect, if not lessen, his credibility as an unperjured affiant.
Case Unclosed is a news and public affairs TV show in the Philippines aired every Thursday evenings by GMA Network. Currently hosted by Arnold Clavio, it supposedly showcases vintage cases unsolved by authorities.
“There was no sense of justice and equity in the Case Unclosed of Arnold Clavio over GMA7. In the first place, the invented rape case against me is still in the courts,” the preacher said. Suggesting that vintage cases should have been the coverage of such a program, he underscored the status of the case that is still in the courts.
Daniel Razon, the Vice Presiding Minister of the Church of God International, and a current executive of UNTV, used to co-anchor a morning show, Unang Hirit, with Arnold Clavio in GMA7. Razon was asked some years back by GMA7 if he could give up something from his religion to please the Iglesia ni Cristo. He instead chose to remain with his faith. From there, Razon was asked to resign.
The Ang Dating Daan began its boycott of GMA on June 19, 2009 the following day that the episode was shown.
GMA is publicly known to compete with ABS-CBN, another TV network, for ratings. The Kapuso network of GMA is bruited about as dominating ratings in Mega Manila and Urban Luzon, based on the data of AGB Nielsen Philippines. But even as they claim so, the ABS-CBN insists its programs from daytime to primetime trumped its rival GMA’s shows nationwide based on overnight TV ratings of Taylor Nelson Sofres. As publicly known, day in- day out, GMA and ABS-CBN would compete for viewer ratings.
The fight for ratings between GMA and ABS-CBN is seen by the Ang Dating Daan sector as partly the reason why GMA7 readily jumped into showing this highly questionable Case Unclosed episode. To reckon, the average number of ADD attendees in Apalit, Pampanga alone during regular thanksgivings is 70,000. If GMA7 thought of creatively increasing their ratings by dealing with this rape case where the accused is an international figure, then this network made a false move. This is the current mood of the ADD now that posted many critical assessments of that GMA show.
The presentation tackled only the side of the complainant, Veridiano, and nothing for the accused, Bro. Eliseo Soriano. As presented in Clavio’s program, Veridiano also added more lies to his statements, obviously calculated to mislead the public and that he is an innocent victim.
Veridiano has become a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo whose habit appears to be that of maligning Soriano. Preacher Soriano routinely exposes the INC of their false beliefs using largely the text discourses in the INC magazine, Pasugo. With it, Soriano has found many errors which he would discuss in bible expositions that obviously embarrass the INC ministers no end. As an effect, the dwindling of the INC membership is credited to Soriano whose preachings were able to enlighten several members of the INC to leave their chapels and join ADD.
“It was in May of 2000 when he summoned me to his room. I was shocked at what followed. At that time I couldn’t resist his advances. There is a teaching in Ang Dating Daan which says the messenger of God does not commit sin. Whatever he does to you is right and just. At that time, I was really terrified of him; and there also is a teaching in Ang Dating Daan that one must do what Soriano tells him to do, at all times. Obey him, otherwise you’ll be cursed. Something really, really bad will happen to you if you disobey this supposed messenger of God,” Veridiano said in Clavio’s program.
Veridiano ended his drama with this statement that sounded like a warning about a dangerous man: “If I don’t fight and speak up, a lot of people will be in danger; and they need to know what he really is and that he is not sinless and he is not true.”
The Ang Dating Daan is readying charges against Veridiano, Arnold Clavio, and GMA. Veridiano knows very well that there is no teaching in Ang Dating Daan from where he was ex-communicated that the messenger does not commit sin and that what he tells one to do is a command to be followed or else one gets cursed.
That Veridiano had been raping his subordinates over many years, taking advantage of a Church credit card for a considerable time, vacationing around beaches during worship services, and traveling abroad at the expense of the Church money entrusted to him are facts that run counter to his made-up stories. Soriano said Veridiano was given all the chances to reform, but he did not. Instead, he tried to cover up some of his doings that surfaced later on after he was expelled from the ADD environs.
Veridiano was excommunicated from the church by Soriano in August 2005 upon recommendation of an investigating panel tasked to look into complaints of raping his subordinates at the ADDCIT, and gross misappropriation of church funds. Some 14 boys had complained of rape and acts of lasciviousness where Veridiano had admitted of the 9 in a confession letter that he wrote to two ministers of the Church dated November 21, 2004.
Records show that the double rape case was filed in October 2005 but was dismissed on January 6, 2006 for lack of evidence by the Regional Court of Pampanga. It was re-filed in higher court by the then Secretary of Justice, Raul Gonzalez who was particularly interested in the case. Through a memorandum to RSP Jesus Simbulan, ORSP, Region III, Gonzalez directed that the records of the case be elevated to his office. To the Ang Dating Daan, however, this action is highly irregular and suspect.
As earlier reported, Soriano explained to the congregation worldwide via satellite that he could not give a statement regarding the case. As such, Clavio should not have gone ahead and aired that episode, knowing fully well that his report is not balanced.
“There was an email to me why we do not answer the broadcast of GMA. There is a principle of sub judice. Under our laws, I cannot answer because I will be cited for contempt of court. That case has just started. It should not be part of the program, Case Unclosed,” Soriano said. “If a case is already in the court, you cannot speak on the merits of it. That would be under the principle of sub judice. However, not talking about it does not mean that we are not responding at all,” he added.
Meanwhile, members of Ang Dating Daan are actively encouraging their peers to delete GMA from their list of TV channels. All over the web, all church locales including those overseas are actively voicing their opinions of a biased TV network. Behind it all, however, they see the invisible hand of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) that habitually makes things difficult for the preacher and the ADD.
The INC intervention in the biblical expositions of Preacher Soriano reveals a pattern. Whenever the ADD would rent public venues for the affair, most often there is interruption, or the management of the place that has been paid for, calls for cancellation. This was what happened in Bulacan. In Malolos, a new Chief of Police that was a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo said the ADD could not use the paid-for venue but he could not give a reason at all. The ADD staff had to remove all their stuff and leave the place.
They recall that the same thing happened in Cainta, Rizal, in Tagaytay, and in Puerto Princesca of Palawan. In Palawan, it was the Office of the President, Gloria Arroyo, that called management not to let ADD use the facilities.
In Virac, Catanduanes, the management did not allow the ADD to use the facilities. Electrical wires were destroyed just so the air conditioning system of the building would not be usable. The bible exposition then was delayed.
Soriano then reminded his men not to be renting public places as the public officials are beholden to the Iglesia ni Cristo. The INC finds power in their practice of bloc voting where every member has to vote for the choice of their church leader. Every election time, the New Era palace of the INC in the Commonwealth Avenue of Quezon City becomes the beat of politicians seeking their endorsement. Such endorsements later on, however, transform into political debts that have to be collected later on in the form of interventions in government systems. This is what Preacher Soriano would condemn often as the root cause of corruption in government systems to include justice.
“I think they want to put me on hold,” Bro. Soriano said, referring to the INC. Perhaps they are so envious that we are able to establish churches in other parts of the world. Let them wait for the fulfillment of the prophecy. Let them witness the unfolding of the Church of God in the West.
“The Church of Manalo came ahead of us in Saudi Arabia but we are greater in number now than they are. I don’t know if they can influence the government here. The laws here are different,” Soriano who is overseas said.