What will you give me if I can hand him over to you?

*Revisiting the “Interpol Wanted” caper, the group responsible for it and their futile attempts to force the courts to declare Bro. Eli Soriano as “fugitive from justice.”
*Challenging lawmakers to do something about the command bloc voting practice of the Iglesia ni Cristo that is practically making government servile to their whims.

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (February 28, 2019) – THE JUDAS OFFER would flourish in a materialistic, godless world where there is loathing for anyone who stands in the way of one’s slide and carousel. In the same godless world are the venal, who, by all indications say, “Here I am; corrupt me!”

What will you give me… is not even a question but an offer. The person is willing to do it for a prize. And it is made possible because we have surrendered or are surrendering to people whom we have given political clout to.

Bro. Eli Soriano

People hating Bro. Eli Soriano’s big mouth is a case in point. Some people loathe him for what he says – because he gives them a run for their money. Most of all, some people want him dead and would hound him to the ends of this earth to stop him from talking.

But Preacher Soriano is not that totally hated; nor his words totally loathed. He has helped several souls come to know the true God and follow His ways, as such is Bro. Eli’s calling.

I am looking for lost sheep 

Bro. Eli doesn’t preach about false prophets as a topic per se, if that is what people hate; they are only side issues. The focus on them come only at certain points that there is any association with the topic at hand. The preacher doesn’t give long lectures to dumb the mind, in fact. He makes the audience highly engaged with his discourses similarly found in unique academies. He is teaching from the Bible – yet encouraging critical thinking. While he has to be sensitive to the probable absence or presence of his target audience (lost sheep), he, all the more, is very sensitive to his material – always. And this is where the “problem” begins because he has to teach the whole truth – not just a part – no matter how it hurts.

If the plan is intact, wherever you take it, the house will be built. Strictly speaking, even a jot or a title should not be diminished.

To show how important this principle is to Bro. Eli, before there any texto (topic) is given in the Members Church of God International (MCGI) , the following verse is displayed on the screen is several languages. [The screen is the blackboard for his worldwide preaching as viewed from Apalit, Pampanga to his audience in 6 continents]:

 “Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:” (Jeremiah 26:2)

Following this order, random grabs from Bro. Eli’s lectures show a deep sensitivity for the Bible. Already, beginning with the first verse of the Bible, Bro. Eli has a comment, noticing the supposed logic of the statement in relation to the verse coming after it. He makes sure the translations are proper before proceeding.

GENESIS 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

[Checking against the Bible Concordance] Gen 1:1  In the beginningH7225 GodH430 createdH1254 (H853) the heavenH8064 and the earth.H776 

Gen 1:2  And the earthH776 wasH1961 without form,H8414 and void;H922 and darknessH2822 was uponH5921 the faceH6440 of the deep.H8415 And the SpiritH7307 of GodH430 movedH7363 uponH5921 the faceH6440 of the waters.H4325

If this were faithfully translated, he says, it would show the status of the earth when it was created. It should read, “When God began to create heaven and earth, earth was without form and void.” Moses was showing the status of the earth when it was created. It was without form and void, he says.

But in the case of Matthew 24:37, “days” should be actually be “day” only.

MATTHEW 24:37 (KJV) But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

This is not in the proper context, he says. Not days. Almost all translators put “days,” even in the Greek. You can only base on the original context of the Bible. It is not right to think that it is “days,” but only one day. Particular day. Particular hour and second of that particular day, he says.

PROVERBS 28:8 (KJV) He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.

It is not logical that he takes to pity the poor, so he increases his substance by usury and unjust gain. Illogical, he says.

[Checking against the Bible Concordance] Pro 28:8  He that by usuryH5392 and unjust gainH8636 increasethH7235 his substance,H1952 he shall gatherH6908 it for him that will pityH2603 the poor.H1800

There are words added in the translation, he says. There was no “he that by” in the original Hebrew. The subject is the action, hence, “Usury and unjust gain increaseth…” Consider this other verse.

DEUTERONOMY 15:11 (KJV) For the poor shall never cease out of the land:

The poor shall never cease. There will always be the poor.

An explanation for mistranslations, Bro. Eli says, is that readers of the Bible have their minds veiled. Translators read the Bible also, like the translators of the Douay-Rheims version which was derived from the Latin Vulgate. There are translators, and there are readers whose minds are veiled. The veil will only be taken away through Christ, he added.

Working against Soriano for promotion

Being a serious Bible student and teacher, exposing those with erroneous doctrines is part and parcel of Bro. Eli’s work, hence the hatred and vitriol from people who do not want to rectify their ways are expected. The system they don’t want to leave behind has monetarily supported them all these years, and they prefer status quo. They do not want anybody interfering. But ”interference” to one maybe “work” to another. Wherever there is lost sheep, expect a Soriano to speak.

And how “Eliseo F. Soriano” had ended up in the Interpol’s wanted list for “sex crimes” is a puzzle to most. Those in the know, however, are not surprised at how far the enemies of Eliseo F. Soriano, simply “Bro. Eli” to them, would go to humiliate him. They are wont to learning his identity get stolen; his very name used to counter information about himself; his biopage [at Wikipedia] mangled to include lies. The truth is, he has no enemies but false preachers he is trying hard to expose.

But there were really works done at the background to explain how these things happen: for placement in lucrative positions, for promotion, for retaliation in a supposed “libel.” And the system is very much accommodating.

As often pointed out, the INC’s bloc voting practice has earned for them preferential treatment in the government so that they can recommend their own men to sensitive positions even as high as the Supreme Court. When this happens, there is what Rivera (2015) calls “the willingness to prostitute convictions and the rule of law” – but this is not limited to politicians only.

Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. is someone backed by the Iglesia ni Cristo as mentioned by Marites Dañgilan Vitug in “Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court.” This justice was the one who wrote the decision sustaining the suspension of Ang Dating Daan, the program of Bro. Eli, upon the complaint of the Iglesia ni Cristo. On pages 93-94 of Vitug’s book –

It did help immensely that Velasco was endorsed by Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, a relative of his wife, and the Iglesia ni Cristo. Velasco listed Cardinal Vidal as one of his references when he applied for the Supreme Court. Asked about the INC nomination, Velasco said, “Some of my friends and classmates may have approached the Iglesia ni Cristo.”

Years later, Velasco wrote a decision in favor of the INC when he upheld the three month suspension of the TV program, Ang Dating Daan, whose host used offensive language against a minister of the INC who also anchors a TV program, Ang Tamang Daan. These religious rivals had been at each other’s throats for years.

The majority sided with Velasco. Four justices dissented, calling the decision a “prior restraint” and therefore, a blow to freedom of speech.

The perception was that Velasco was paying his dues to INC. “It was an en banc decision,” [Velasco] said, dismissing the perceived bias.

The question is: Why didn’t Justice Velasco inhibit himself from the case, considering his links with the Iglesia ni Cristo? He even wrote the decision! (Astudillo, 2013)

When the Iglesia ni Cristo launched “Ang Tamang Daan” way back in 2001, Bro. Eli knew its principal function was to destroy the person of the preacher through that TV program. But the Interpol-wanted caper was different because of the scope and the sufferings that Bro. Eli had to undergo. Worse, it was a patent display of church and state in virtual collusion. In the words of Randy David (2015), “Nothing is more explosive than the mixture of religion and politics.”

Why was this made possible? The INC were able to place their men in strategic positions: in the police force, in the justice system, and in many similar others. And who can tell secrets best but the people who are/were also one of them.

Ebanghelista (2017), for one, mentions that there was/is an Eli Soriano Crusade. “Antonio Ramirez Ebangelista,” according to TJ Burgonio (2015) is the pseudonym of a blogger who not only exposed what he called irregularities in the sect, but also dished out timely updates on expelled INC ministers who were allegedly illegally detained or kidnapped.

The filing of libel cases against Bro. Eli, Ebanghelista (2017) says was a contribution from INC ministers. There was a covert operation (black-ops) on Bro. Eli and his supporters at the ADD Convention Center in Pampanga using none other than the INC Police Officers of the Quezon City Police Department… All those who belonged to this Black-ops (team of Atty. Barcellano) were under an oath of silence.  Result: The cases were never solved; Atty. Vimar Barcellano was promoted – immediately and strategically.

Some time ago during the Eli Soriano crusade, the head of the INC Legal Department was the Minister/lawyer, Restituto Lazaro and the one who handles the actual legal operations was the Ministerial Student/lawyer, Atty. Vimar Barcellano. These people were not forthcoming to the Administration of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo then. They reported lies to him and covered up most of their heinous crimes.  [Underscoring by Ebanghelista (2017)].

As a result, Atty. Resty Lazaro committed so many legal blunders for the church, he was eventually relieved of his position. As for Atty. Barcellano, after his wife discovered his extra-marital affairs, he was kicked out from the Ministry and from the INC Legal Department but because of his contributions to the Eli Soriano filing of libel cases, he was not expelled from the Church. Instead, he was “advised” to join the police force, after which he became Captain in the notorious INC bailiwick, the Quezon City Police District, as the head of its Legal Department…

All those who belonged to Atty. Barcellano’s Black-Ops Team were under an oath of silence, that is why the cases were never ever solved. And this paved the way to Atty. Vimar Barcellano’s immediate and continuous promotion in his position up to the highly strategic post he now holds as CHIEF PROSECUTOR of Dasmariñas, Cavite. It’s much clearer now, why most of the highly questionable activities of the Church Administration of Eduardo V. Manalo is done in Cavite, Philippines because Chief Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano is there to make everything “appear to be a legit procedure.” (Ebanghelista, 2017)

A black operation (or black ops) is a covert operation by a government, a government agency, or a military organization. This can include activities by private companies or groups. Key features of a black operation are that it is secret and it is not attributable to the organization carrying it out. (Wikipedia)

What went before 

On March 27, 2005, Bro. Eli posted on The Manila Times a challenge to debate with Eraño Manalo of the Iglesia ni Cristo “to once and for all settle our doctrinal differences.” He was refused and instead was pushed to ask Pope John Paul II at Vatican, who was dying that time, for a debate and to speak in Latin. That would be the time his request would be accepted. The implication was that the Iglesia ni Cristo was superior to the Roman Catholic Church.

By December 2005, Bro. Eli Soriano was forced to leave the Philippines, with so many cases filed in court.  While he was out of the country, a rape case against him was filed by no other than one he had excommunicated and went to the Iglesia ni Cristo. This case was dismissed In January 2006 for lack of evidence. Curiously, it was re-filed by the Secretary of Justice whose office fell under the Office of the President.

In 2007, INC members who had filed Criminal Case 5957 (For Libel) at the Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 76 of San Mateo Rizal, sought a motion to declare Bro. Eli a fugitive from justice. Judge Josephine Zarate Fernandez on August 31, 2007 denied the motion. Soriano’s counsel had underscored that his client is under intense persecution by the INC, explaining his failure to return to the country. DENIED.

The following year (August 2008), the “Interpol wanted” news came out – at least from the news report of Alfred Dalizon of Journal Online. The offense being true or not, it said Eliseo Soriano was being wanted by the Interpol for “sex crimes.”  The Interpol website that displayed the photo and information of Bro. Eli dated January 28, 2009 said, “If you have any information, contact your national or local police, General Secretariat of Interpol.”

At the same time, GMA7 showed an interview with the supposed complainant with Arnold Clavio as the anchorman. That was the only time the MCGI congregation came to know Bro. Eli’s location: Brazil in Latin America. All the time, information about his location was kept from the organization.

The MCGI went into full force. To introduce to the Interpol the supposed victim, “Portrait of the ‘raped man’ for whom the Interpol would mobilize” was written on “Censored News Uncensored,” WordPress, a parody of the interview of Arnold Clavio, “Case Closed Unclosed.” It described the accuser and narrated the reasons why Daniel S. Veridiano was excommunicated by Bro. Eli in the first place.

All the while, the Internet helped to show: (1) That the rape case was dismissed, (2) The case was re-filed under questionable circumstances, (3) That there is an age-old and on-going battle between the INC and MCGI, (4) That powerful people, not involved, are themselves being used in persecuting Bro. Eli, and (5) That there is the INC to be pleased by these people.

In 2009, since nothing was happening with the Interpol notice (No Bro. Eli yet in their jails) but just a notice, INC complainants in Criminal Case 06-248365 (For Libel) at the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region, Branch 8, Manila, also sought a motion to declare accused Eliseo Soriano a fugitive from justice. Just as with the first motion in 2007, this second motion seeking to declare Bro. Eli as fugitive from justice was turned down by the court. Penned by Presiding Judge Felixberto T. Olalia, Jr. on December 15, 2009, in the absence of evidences to support accusations, the court said the accused cannot be declared a “fugitive from justice.” DENIED

In fact, there was a third one: Criminal Case 06-248365 (For Libel) failed to get its motion to declare the preacher as fugitive from justice, and was archived. ARCHIVED.

By December 2009, suddenly Bro. Eli began broadcasting from a garage, turned into a makeshift studio, located in Florianópolis, Brazil. Here was the “wanted” man showing himself to the world. Yet he was still supposed to be “wanted.”

Fast forward to August 2011, GMA News, a sister station of GMA7, replayed the interview made on August 2008 made with the supposed rape complainant despite protestations from MCGI members. This resulted in more than 36,000 MCGI members responding with a boycott of the station and opened an online page purposely to communicate with GMA.

The following year [March] 2012, the Interpol dropped Bro. Eli’s name – after some three years. It said their investigations depended on up-to-date global data.

In sum, the Iglesia ni Cristo were not successful in having Bro. Eli be declared a fugitive from justice. They were not able to have him incarcerated. The cases they filed began to be dismissed one after the other. The Interpol Wanted list deleted Bro. Eli’s name. Meanwhile, on the Internet, he is being seen preaching worldwide from Brazil.

Was the Interpol really looking for Bro. Eli?

An Alfred P. Dalizon wrote in August 2008 a story on World News of Journal Online, saying Bro. Eli was served an international Red Notice from the Interpol for the charge of rape. The request was supposedly made by the Regional Trial Court of Macabebe, Pampanga. This was the very court that tried the rape case that was first dismissed, but was re-filed.

Dalizon was clearly partial to the INC that he wrote Bro. Eli was a former INC, just as he said, Daniel Veridiano, the complainant, was an INC member who went to Bro. Eli’s group, then returned to the INC. These are patent lies.

As records reveal, the investigating prosecutor found no probable cause to prosecute Soriano as he believed that Veridiano’s accusations were all lies and fabricated. It highly considered the rift going on between the INC and the ADD. It was penned by Alexandro Lopez, Asst. Provincial Prosecutor, and approved by Jesus Manarang, the Provincial prosecutor, Province of Pampanga, San Fernando City, on January 26, 2006.

But the case was re-filed. How was this done? Manarang, with some filial links to Raul Gonzalez, the Secretary of Justice under the Office of the President, was replaced by Jaime Umpa from Mindanao that took care of the re-filing of the case. After that, Manarang was returned to his place and Umpa was returned to Mindanao.

Ebanghilista (2015) on his website shows photos of the concerned documents. The document shots duly captioned, are as follows:

(1) Rape case filed against Bro. Eli was dismissed by Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Alexandro Lopez and submitted by Jesus Y. Manarang on January 26, 2006.

(2) March 21, 2006. DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez orders the records of the rape case to be elevated to his office. The President at that time was Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, widely supported by the INC for their bloc voting practice.

(3) April 10, 2006, Jesus Manarang, Provincial Prosecutor, complies with the order of DOJ Sec Raul Gonzalez to elevate the case.

(4) April 25, 2006, DOJ Sec Raul Gonzalez assigns Jaime L. Umpa to Pampanga especially to resolve the case, “Daniel Veridiano vs. Eliseo Soriano.” Department Order 255, April 25, 2006 was signed by Raul Gonzalez.

Ebanghelista’s (2015) assessment was that –

[This is] a case of special treatment, of obvious manipulation and interference! The “common sense” that can explain this is that the one who filed the case is an Iglesia ni Cristo member and the accused happens to be a Bro. Eli Soriano, one who has no influence [with] the government.

Notes: In (2), directed to elevate the records to the Office of the Department of Justice was Regional State Prosecutor Jesus Simbulan of Region III.

In (3), there’s a notation that says, ‘Together with the prepared resolution of Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Alexandro Lopez.’

ELEVATING THE CASE

Question: What happened now to the earlier resolution? Was Lopez forced to change his first resolution of ‘DISMISSED’?

Because the clear intention is to once and for all apprehend Bro. Eli wherever he was in any part of the world, the Interpol was used. So that the Interpol would have something to hold on to, a court case for mere libel (2007) sought a motion to declare him “fugitive from justice.” Hence, the following year (April 2008), the Interpol wanted list appeared, but that was all. Only a notice. In 2009, another court case, again for mere libel, sought a motion to have Bro. Eli be declared as fugitive from justice. Still no handcuffing. And yet a third attempt was made, despite the court junking the two earlier motions, but was archived. How persistent these efforts were, the court cases can tell.

The Iglesia ni Cristo were having a feast from all of these, as shown by their spams on social media sites. But their problem was that because Bro. Eli is being seen on the Internet preaching world-wide, how could he be someone hiding with activities that required the intervention of the Interpol?

Questions on Interpol Notice

The Interpol does not also involve itself in any political, military, religious, or racial crimes. This is written in its constitution.

Moreover, the work of Interpol focuses primarily on public safety, terrorism, organized crime, war crimes, illicit drug production, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, computer crime, intellectual property crime and corruption.

For which of these crimes was Soriano guilty of to merit an Interpol notice? If Bro. Eli Soriano cannot even be declared a “fugitive from justice” by the courts, how could the Interpol be looking for him? Two times denied; the third time, archived. For whatever motive his name was placed there, only the culprit knows.

The Interpol emphatically states in their database that a Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant in contrast to Dalizon’s report of April 2008 about Bro. Eli. It also gives a warning in bold letters that the person should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

But did someone make a killing for the temporary posting? The Internet was so full about this Interpol thing. The humiliation was too much. Those who had filed cases, and those that moved the powers that be to hound Bro. Eli, are those who had made a feast of all these – and it took 3 painful years, and more.

What were they able to disable from Bro. Eli?

Why in the world would Dalizon pretend to direct the Interpol to places where Bro. Eli goes as a tip? Was the preacher hiding? How could Interpol not know about the activities of Bro. Eli when he is on the Internet teaching the world day in and day out? For a while, the enemy seemed victorious. Bro. Eli laments to the congregation (Skype conference, 2016) –

The enemy was doing everything to destroy me. I asked permission from the court to leave the Philippines to conduct a Bible Exposition in Singapore.

When I was already in Singapore, the enemies filed a rape case against me, so that they can take me. That is without bail. Atty. Frank Chavez called me and advised me not to return to the Philippines. He said it would be dangerous for me to go home to the Philippines.

I did not know where to go. My mind was troubled.

Considering that they had wanted Bro. Eli to suffer, they enjoyed placing him in difficulty. While Bro. Eli was jumping from country to country, he was not able to preach – but he was thinking.

We jumped from one country to the next. We found out that Brazil is predominantly Catholic. I was thinking, there may be people of God there.

In the map, Brazil is the opposite of the Philippines. We had to go to Uruguay first. With God’s help, I was given a visa. But the lawyer advised me to lay low for a while. That was for three months. I was not happy because I was not able to preach.

We exited to different countries every 30 days. I was like a man without a nation because I had no visa in Singapore. And then I was eventually granted a work visa. I did not need to exit to neighboring countries. But we were not allowed to preach in Singapore.

I was thinking, what would I be doing here? Will I just die here without preaching? In Singapore, we sold snacks. I was earning. I had a savings account in a bank. But the bank told me to get my money and close the account. It turned out that I have an Interpol notice.

Enter the God of Justice

For all his sufferings, Bro. Eli knew God would not allow him to suffer injustice for long. He will assert his presence. The God of Justice will balance things. One day, his lawyer said, “They cannot arrest you anymore. There is no extradition treaty here in Brazil. Before they can have you deported, they have to get through me.”

Bro. Eli started going out. He told Bro. Josel Mallari, one of the ministers, to look for a television station. It was rather expensive, but they gave it a try. They aired a program. After two weeks, they received many responses, and so they conducted a Bible Exposition. Guests swarmed in.

People attended the exposition for the whole day – 14 hours. Bro. Eli spent much; it was in millions. It turned out that this thing is already in the Bible: the prophecy that salvation will start in the east and then go to the west. He asks, and answers his own question: “Was anyone able to hinder it? No!”

In December 2009, TV Verdade was born. Its broadcast feed originated from a small garage, around 48 square meters, transformed into a makeshift broadcasting studio located in Florianópolis, Brazil. The station now carries the 24-hour Portuguese broadcast of O Caminho Antigo (English: The Old Path, Tagalog: Ang Dating Daan) hosted by Bro. Eli.

After virtually driving Bro. Eli away from the Philippines, his enemies thought they would be safe from his mouth. But feeling that the Interpol would not be acting, they tried three times to have him be declared as “fugitive from justice.” No results. The courts did not approve. Worse, Interpol dropped Bro. Eli’s name from being “wanted.”

Now that Bro. Eli had based himself in Brazil, failing from the Interpol attempt, they wanted to have him extradicted so they can have some access to him. But such request was archived, too. With God’s mercy, Bro. Eli came to have legal status in Brazil.

Even if they killed me

The notion of an antipodes map first came to Bro. Eli when he tried to make sense of what was happening to him and found it is a package by itself. His being hunted and hounded is merely a part, but it doesn’t mean those party to it are blessed and should be blessed.

With the antipodes map, the direction of preaching that MCGI should follow is dictated: Coming from the east that is the Philippines, it goes to the west (Brazil); then it should go up north and finally go down south. That is in the prophecy. As far as the MCGI is concerned, the one tasked to save people in these areas is the Church affiliated with the Church mentioned in the Bible.

Bro. Eli has been 12 years in Brazil now. In all places in south and Latin America, there are now MCGI locales:  259 in Spanish-speaking countries (Latin America), and 149 Portuguese-speaking locales (Brazil). By April 2016, TV Verdade was announced as adding 23 relay stations, to total 50 relay stations in the west.

TV Verdade airs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via Star One C2 satellite in South American countries and SES-6 satellite which also covers South American countries as a redundancy, including other nations in North America, Europe and North Africa.

If you will look at the antipodes map, if you bury a tunnel right through the center of the earth to the other side of the world, you will end up in Brazil, in South America.

The church is growing. They cannot hinder it. Even if they killed me, the word of God is already planted. It already started to grow and to bear fruits. I hold Bible Expositions in different places. That’s how I look for lost sheep.

Why did he say, “even if they killed me?” From experience, Bro. Eli knows that there are people who cannot accept truth.

When he was just 27 years old, preaching in the barrios of Central Luzon, Philippines, the young Eli was mauled by deacons of the Iglesia ni Cristo in Betis, Pampanga. The topic he was discussing was about the “other angel ascending from the east.” According to several sources, Felix Manalo, the founder of the INC, had declared himself to be the fifth angel calling out to four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or sea or trees until we have sealed the foreheads of the servants of our God.”…

Santa Romana (1955) and four other sources write, it was in 1922 that Felix Manalo first declared himself to be the “fifth angel” or  “another angel rising in the east” as mentioned in Revelation 7:2. Accordingly, he developed this doctrine in order to accumulate power and reassert his leadership in the church.

Bro. Eli said it was impossible that, that angel was Manalo. Can he set one foot upon the sea and another foot on the earth? Impossible! Before he could even do that, he would drown, he said. Members of the Iglesia ni Cristo did not like what they heard. Five deacons beat the young man that he got hospitalized at Mercy Clinic for one week.

INC Interference in Government

Lawmakers should climb a little higher to take note of what’s happening in the environment. What they did to Bro. Eli Soriano is so far the most complicated operations carried out. Involved here were the courts, the media, the Interpol, and the governments of the Philippines and Brazil, with the Iglesia ni Cristo playing major role.

At the background were the many members of the MCGI in 6 continents actively following up on developments. All throughout, there was an online boycott of some 36,000 against GMA7 and GMA News because of their support of the supposed “raped” victim. There was a lot of disinformation on the Internet for three painful years and more, while the “Interpol wanted list” requested by the Iglesia ni Cristo was active. Has there been any other Filipino treated like this? Who will be their next victim?

And yet lawmakers have not done any move because they can milk the corrupt practice for their own purpose. Nothing is being done to check the Iglesia ni Cristo. Not to even mention accessions given to them on a platter, we trace this cancer to the INC practice of bloc voting that has made politicians servile and government corroding to the core. It begins with the Iglesia ni Cristo playing games with their members on one hand and candidates for elections on the other.

The politicians court the INC for votes, the INC dictates to their members. When these politicians win, they act as stooges. It is payback time, and the cancer cells spread out. Now, since the practice is aimed at national officials including the President of the Land, every part of government is not safe from defilement.

One can say there’s nothing wrong with bloc voting, but the kind that INC practices is one of command. There have been dissenting voices but it looks like no one is interested in solutions. As Columnist Conrado de Quiros asked, why do we allow this?

“Why do we allow the INC…to interfere in elections? We know that INC members vote as a bloc for the candidates of their leaders’ choosing. We know this because that church doesn’t bother to hide it; it parades it as one of the reasons for joining it or currying its favor…This is out-and-out flouting of the separation of Church and State, a thing expressly forbidden in a democracy. And yet we see no law stopping it, and yet we see only politicians seeking to profit from it.” (De Quiros, 2012).

Even thinking INC members are not fooled. They can see what’s wrong and they are concerned about the effects on the government –

“Oh, how terrible and weakening the feeling, hearing those words of politicians who are subservient to the influence of the Iglesia ni Cristo! It is like they have lost their mind. Can you imagine Pavlov’s dog? What these politicians actually salivate for are nothing but the bloc votes of these non-thinking Iglesia ni Cristo. That is the reason these politicians cannot stand up for law.

“It appears that the Iglesia ni Cristo ni Manalo can freely do anything they wanted to do without worry of interference from the government even if they aggrieve others. It is indeed discouraging and seemingly marginalized to feel that one belongs to the people who have no “say” to those in the government. (Ebanghelista, 2015)

Of the next victim, can you imagine? It only happens that the God of Bro. Eli is real who also wanted to prove his power. The spikes of the fierce and vicious, he was able to dumb down. But what if the victim is not a Bro. Eli?

Politics of religion

Yet the INC are ever ready to use the infamous tagline, “separation of Church and State” to defend themselves whenever they could capitalize on it. The principle is that the State cannot interfere in purely religious matters and the Church cannot also interfere in matters of the State.

Miraculously, after Bro. Eli was relieved from that “Interpol wanted” caper, things were happening at the Iglesia ni Cristo even as it approaches the INC’s 101st founding anniversary (July 27, 2015). There was fighting within, amidst allegations of corruption. The very family of the Manalos were in contention: the Executive Minister, that is Eduardo V. Manalo, had excommunicated his own mother and his brother (CNN_PH Staff, 2015).

Corruption was being alleged within the organization even by Angel Manalo, the very brother of the Executive Minister (Malig, 2015). Some ministers have either gone missing or were being held as prisoners within. Court cases flew. At one point in time, the Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima called for a preliminary investigation of several INC church leaders based on the testimony of Mr. Isias Samson, a former minister, with allegations of serious illegal detention.

Wikipedia records that on August 27-31, 2015, the INC held protests. The INC were calling it an alleged violation of separation of church and state due to the DOJ acting on the filed illegal detention case. The twin goals were: (1) Removal of DOJ secretary Leila de Lima from her post, and (2) Junking of the Case filed by Isaias Samson Jr. The results of the 5-day protest were that (1) The Iglesia Ni Cristo announced the end of the protests following talks between church and government officials. And (2) The Iglesia ni Cristo in protester created a heavy traffic jam on EDSA, causing major re routing and road closures. (3) De Lima remained DOJ secretary.

Here comes the question:

Who gave a minority religious group like the Iglesia Ni Kristo, not even one-tenth as many as the Catholic Church, so much power and influence that it has the audacity… to stage a protest and expect the State to kowtow in fear?…It is amazing why election after election, presidentiables and senatoriables have to make a courtesy call to INC leadership like their political lives depended on it. It is mind-boggling how the announcement of INC-supported candidates get more media mileage than the CBCP list (Rivera, 2015).

Buenaobra (2016) echoes the same sentiment: “Despite the failed endorsements, candidates still trooped to the INC compound to get the ‘blessing’ (and votes) of its executive minister.” As news accounts show, previous endorsements of the INC that have failed include: Eduardo Cojuangco who came in 3rd; Estrada who was ousted in 2001 because of corruption charges; Macapagal-Arroyo who had graft charges, and Manny Villar who lost the elections.

Rivera (2015) explains that the problem starts when people who want to control the State are willing to use the Church to get elected. Then, the separation of church and state becomes blurry. Wielding influence in the matters of State is made possible by giving religious groups leeway to dictate election results by their open endorsements, Rivera said.

That is the reason why some politicians are willing to prostitute convictions and the rule of law so they will not earn the ire of the INC and others who may already know their fate with the INC to readily criticize it (Rivera, 2015).

But it may not be the same again to claim that INC members are ‘just protecting their faith.’

Until we learn that we get our ails from our own doing, we cannot say to the INC, it may not be the same again. What we have now is a government fast deteriorating and cheapened from engaging in barter schemes with a “church” demanding special privileges. And this is done through politicians, prosecutors, justices, police and personalities of like stature from wrongful political couplings demonstrated herein. #

References

Abao, J. (2008, August 27). Portrait of the “raped man” for whom the Interpol would mobilize. Retrieved from https://jakeastudillo.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/portrait-of-the-raped-man-for-whom-the-interpol-would-mobilize/ First posted on Newsvine.com

Abao, J. (2014, October 22). Eli Soriano Not Fugitive from Justice: Two Courts Deny Motions. Retrieved from https://kotawinters.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/eli-soriano-not-fugitive-from-justice-two-courts-deny-motions/

Astudillo, J. (2013, April 3). Are We Now Going to Give the Country to Bloc-Voting People? Retrieved from https://kotawinters.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/are-we-now-going-to-give-the-country-to-bloc-voting-people/

Buenaobra, MI. T. (2016, February 24). The Politics of Religion in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://asiafoundation.org/2016/02/24/the-politics-of-religion-in-the-philippines/

Burgonio, T.J. (2015, November 29). Blogger ‘Ebangelista’ writes Inquirer, warns Iglesia elders. Retrieved from https://technology.inquirer.net/45477/blogger-ebangelista-writes-inquirer-warns-iglesia-elders?utm_expid=.XqNwTug2W6nwDVUSgFJXed.1

CNN Philippines Staff (2015, July 24). Iglesia ni Cristo expels Manalo siblings, mother. Retrieved from http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2015/07/23/Iglesia-ni-Cristo-expels-Manalo-siblings-mother.html1

Dalizon, A.P. (2008, August 16). Int’l arrest warrant out for Eli Soriano. Retrieved from http://article.wn.com/view/2008/08/16/Intl_arrest_warrant_out_for_Eli_Soriano/

Dalizon, A.P. (2008, August 17) [Tabloid version posted in People’s Tonight]. Retrieved from http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php?issue=2008-08-17&sec=1&aid=70285

David, R. (2015, August 30). Law, politics and the INC, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from https://opinion.inquirer.net/88043/law-politics-and-the-inc#ixzz5gcEUY8du

De Quiros, C. (2012, May 23). Why do we allow this? Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from https://opinion.inquirer.net/29267/why-do-we-allow-this#ixzz5gVDXkCjH

Ebanghelista, A.R. (2015, September 21). Iglesia ni Cristo Straining the Gnats but not the Camel. Retrieved from https://incnomore.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/iglesia-ni-cristo-straining-the-gnats-but-not-the-camel/

Ebanghelista, A.R. (2017, June 7). Eduardo V. Manalo’s Administration: Undeniably a Bully Disguised as Holy. Retrieved from https://incsilentnomore.com/2017/06/07/eduardo-v-manalos-administration-undeniably-a-bully-disguised-as-holy/

Malig, J. (2015, July 24). Angel Manalo alleges ‘massive corruption’ in Iglesia Ni Cristo. ABS-CBNnews.com. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/metro-manila/07/23/15/angel-manalo-alleges-massive-corruption-iglesia-ni-cristo

Rivera, B.V. (2015, September 1). The Iglesia ni Cristo and the game of politics. Retrieved from https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/opinion/content/535108/the-iglesia-ni-cristo-and-the-game-of-politics/story/

Santa Romana (1955:381-5), Gumban (1968:41), Fabian(1969:7-8), Sanders (1969:353-5) and Tuggy (1976:57-9,116-9). Fallacies of the Iglesia ni Cristo. https://sites.google.com/site/fallaciesoftheiglesianicristo/biography-of-felix-y-manalo

Smith, Jr., W. Thomas (2003). Black-ops. Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc. p. 31. ISBN 0-8160-4666-2. In Wikipedia

Soriano, E. F. (2016, April 6) Lamentations. (Statements in italics). Skype Conference. Members Church of God International

Vitug, M. D. (2010). Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court. Public Trust Media Group Inc.

Wikipedia. 2015 Iglesia ni Cristo protests. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Iglesia_ni_Cristo_protests

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Bro. Eli Soriano: Not of their Level, Purely

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (2/12/2019 ) – IT WAS NOT the first time these words came to him as a response, to cut him down to size: “Not of their level.” They are way up, and Soriano is way down. He is just a high school dropout; they would not forget that. At the time he was challenging a false preacher to a debate, the response was that Bro. Eli Soriano did not come up to the level of the one being challenged. Not of his level. So they say they are perfection and he blushes in his heart.

Bro. Eli Soriano

When Bro. Eli challenged Eraño Manalo, then the Executive Minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo to a debate, “Hindi ka ka-lebel” (You’re not of my level) was the answer. The latest one Bro. Eli was challenging and still challenging is Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the “Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the name above every name” who referred to his organization as “kingdom nation.”

Quiboloy claimed he is the Appointed Son of God. Accordingly, God took Quiboloy’s name and gave Quiboloy his name, purely! Therefore he and God are one! He has many other claims besides. And these claims, Bro. Eli would like to contest – for the reason that they contribute to atheism and primarily because they are built on lies and deceive so many.

Quiboloy, or PACQ as many refer to him on the Internet, is a graduate of a Bible school. To add to that, which is why he feels towering above everyone, according to his website, Quiboloy has been awarded 9 honorary doctorate degrees in 2018 alone by an accrediting organization named Royal Institution Singapore. This organization, RI Singapore, however, is not a University.

Backtracking, in the 1980’s, a rich woman who was excommunicated from the Church, tried her best to have Bro. Eli incarcerated. The case was all about money borrowed by 3 Church members from her business and Bro. Eli tried to pay with checks to settle the trouble. Add to the fact that the woman went abroad and the one receiving the checks was her daughter, the checks bounced because of the placed dates. Bro. Eli was then to be imprisoned – for 39 years! But much as the woman tried to make Bro. Eli suffer, she could not even physically take hold of him. In her derision and with all the hatred in her heart, she shouted, “Soriano, you are just a peso!”

Bro. Eli laughed. “Haha! That’s even more than what I am. One peso is 100 centavos. And I am nothing!”

It is mostly false prophets that call Bro. Eli “not of their level,” and only as an excuse not to face him in a debate. Quiboloy was more docile years before, during the times they were both airing their religious programs at Channel 13, but not now. He is way ahead with so many lies, with so many claims, that he has generated a lot of atheists.

BRO. ELI SORIANO: Let us play again the voice of Mr… our friend whom we are currently addressing, and let us listen to what he is saying so that we can continue to address it. Here he is.

PACQ: Mr. S, let me inform you that this ministry and this preacher will stand for all kinds of issues, whether spiritual, doctrinal, ethical, legal, even personal. My life is an open book. And not only am I willing to discuss in private, but even on television, like what we are doing now.

Choose the field where you want us to go into on all those issues. Even if the Lord comes, I will dedicate this program with the intention of clarifying things to our many listeners and watchers. I will dedicate this program if you are there to stand against the commandments of our Lord God, against the set of laws of man or set of laws we were brought up in, like ethics, legal, doctrinal or spiritual. Whichever of these you will go into.

While this ministry exists, this will be used by the Lord for all to be corrected in the path where the Lord wants us to walk, the path that will sanctify make one righteous, and will draw us near to Him and to His will.

BRO. ELI SORIANO: Pause it for a while, director. He challenged us. He said, “This ministry, this preacher, is ready to stand for whatever issue, whether legal, spiritual…” Et cetera, the things he said. “I am challenging you,” he said, “Not only in court, but even on television. I am challenging you on these issues.” I accept your challenge, Mr. Abuloy (collection). What do you want us to talk about? You said you can stand for legal, moral, and spiritual issues. “I will dedicate this television program if you want it on television.” Challenge accepted, Mr. Abuloy. I accept your challenge formally on the air.

Let us talk about the doctrines you are teaching. That is the most important of all. If you want us to have a discourse on television, let us combine our time slots. You have an hour-and-a-half, since our programs are aired after the other. I have an hour, that would be two-hours-and-a-half. Let us take another half hour. Let us ask the management of Channel 13 to give us three solid hours for us to have a discourse regarding your doctrine. Prove that the church you registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, your church, “The Executive Pastor of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name Administrator, Inc.” Prove that it is the true organization that is of God; I will disprove it! That group is of the devil, according to the Bible. I will prove it. Then prove that our group is wrong. Prove that our group is wrong and is of the devil. There are just two things. If you are not of God, you are of the devil. I am opposed to your group, the organization you established, even your by-laws, even the doctrines you are teaching, I oppose them. I will prove that it is not of God, it is of the devil.

This was years ago in Channel 13. Between the late 80’s and early 90’s, both Bro. Eli and Quiboloy patronized Channel 13 for their religious programs. But now Quiboloy is saying that he does not engage in debates anymore.

In response to Bro. Eli pestering him about Quiboloy’s so-called revelations, the Kingdom Nation pastor had issued in 2005 a “revelation” that Bro. Eli would be “stricken with a deadly disease that he cannot overcome.” With that, he had also warned that his followers better leave in 6 months, or else they will also suffer the preacher’s fate. It is now 2019. As it did not happen, Quiboloy was exposed as a false prophet.

Meanwhile, Quiboloy foisted “revelation after revelation” on the public, and all the more that Bro. Eli wanted to debate with him. But there are several reasons Quiboloy would give as an escape: “We are not anymore in the Church age, so there is no more need to debate.” And, “How can you debate with me? I am the truth, the way and the life!”

These recent days, there is an amount pegged as a condition: “I am expensive now. For two hours that I am speaking, $20,000,000 would have been collected.” That would be 1,040,210,000.00 Philippine Pesos (country currency rates conversion, Feb. 13, 2019), or one billion forty million two hundred ten thousand pesos, an amount that would provide a good budget for MCGI propagation programs to reach out to several millions in the world, than debate with a disillusioned false prophet who can no longer accept truth.

It is not the money though that Quiboloy had pegged to stop anyone from bothering him. Still, the challenge to him stays. One does not get paid to face anyone in a debate just like boxing is done. If you have the truth, you can stand for it. But if you are just fooling people, you simply advance so many reasons to avoid any debate – worse, face a Bro. Eli Soriano to examine you. So, even if $20,000,000 were given to you on a platter, can you defend your lies? Can you afford to be out-ed to your members? Would they want to know you have been fooling them all along – they, who have been your source of living in a honeycomb for several years?

But Quiboloy said, Bro. Eli is not of his level. “I am really nothing. It’s okay. You have Bro. Daniel Razon. He is a college graduate – of Mass Communication. And he has many awards – worldclass even. You won’t have to feel ashamed of him.”  Bro. Eli was comforting the congregation.

As known in the Members Church of God International, Bro. Daniel Razon, the next-in-rank to Bro. Eli, would take after the latter, should he go. But what about the needed understanding that is Bro. Eli’s signature in preaching? It will pass on to Bro. Daniel. Whoever is leading the Church, God will give the understanding needed. That much, Bro. Eli assured.

AT AGE 15, the young Eli was enjoying discussions with his classmates about religion in the high school corridors. While the Catholics had their class inside, those of other religions were outside having their own discourses.

By age 16, he had become too attracted to the Bible while he was also a student leader loved by teachers in his school. By age 17, like a magnet, the Bible finally had him pulled off from school a few months before he could finish his third year.

But it could not be just one way. While he was being siphoned by another domain, he was being pushed off from another. Bro. Eli mentioned a teacher who was a Catholic that was being nasty – different from most of his teachers who doted on him. During his last year too, he had had a little debate with a teacher who insisted on teaching about evolution, but the young Eli believed that as untrue and should not be taught. His classmates, who were still hopeful he would one day show up in school, were soon to learn that Eli had decided to dedicate his time in the Church. There was no turning back.

With a marked brilliance, the young Church worker eventually became the one drafting the topics (paksa) for Bro. Nicolas Perez who was leading the Church at that time. Perez died in 1975 and in 1976 Bro. Eli, in his late 20’s, was leading the Church that came out of a split of three groups.

DEBATE WAS THE only way people could be forced to accept truth. As a young church worker, Bro. Eli one day found out that anyone with false claims can be challenged with a debate. With an older brother-in-faith (Bro. Reuben Canlas) leading him to Plaza Miranda, they found someone preaching on the stage with various claims that were not found in the Bible. This man was lying. Finding out that he knew even more, Bro. Eli disputed those claims of the man and took the chance to show the Bible verses. The audience accepted him and his arguments.

Precisely why Canlas was bringing him to places where there were crowds was that he knew the young fellow was mastering the Bible and he would like him to be tried and tested. This incident was followed by another, and then another, until finally, Bro. Eli was himself representing Bro. Perez in debates with pastors of other religions.

Debates peppered the life of Bro. Eli even as he became a young Church leader. Curiously, someone was doing the scheduling. But Bro. Eli, himself, did not look for these people who were to be his opponents. The debates with religions, as diverse as can be, happened like an entertainment for someone who seemed not to entirely believe in Bro. Eli. Named Emmanuel Bacosa, he owned the place in Makati where Church in that area was being held during those days. Somehow, Bro. Eli believed the fellow was being used by the Iglesia ni Cristo to prove something. Yet, Bro. Eli took the challenge to face everyone scheduled to prove his mettle. From then on, he used debates as a tool to expose false preachers – from the Philippines to foreign lands.

In the history of MCGI, whenever debates are held, Bro. Eli was always the victor. A humble figure of debates that he had summed up in the Philippines would not be less than 40. In foreign lands, however, since he left the Philippines in 2005, there is not even 10 as they come to shove each other after knowing the man better from YouTube. That he was always the victor were on account of two reasons: First, he is strong in faith. Second, that faith allowed him understanding.

BUT WHO WOULD believe Bro. Eli is just a high school dropout whom one can easily dump? “Tried and tested on stage” – that was his description, but the tide has ironically turned against him. Now, people suspect he is only saying he is a high school dropout to highlight his victories. Now, people suspect he is someone well-versed in reasoning, he must be a lawyer, and not to believe the dropout story. You hear of Law students eagerly watching  how he rebuts, how he makes a defense, how he examines his opponent. Now, people think the dropout tag is only a ploy to attract unprepared pastors to face him and be exposed. In foreign lands, we learn of pastors having signed the papers but never arriving at the debate venue, even after preparations had been set and expenses were paid. The time runs, people are waiting, but nobody arrives. Why? They finally have watched Bro. Eli through the Internet how he would expose dumb pastors just with the Bible as reference. And it was not in a single debate alone that he was able to do this, but in several.

Given that there is no need to pretend what one is not, the young Eli, while leaving his high school must have taught himself so well only so that he could win in debates, defending truth. That was so far the only vestige that linked him to “school.” And because of his love and respect for reason, he had come upon First Principles, upon types of debates (You hear him talking about the Oxford type), upon argumentation, and necessarily the fallacies. So now, no one could win over him!

Tonight, he had just said: “It is impossible for the same thing to be both true and false at the same time. A thing cannot both be and not be in the same respect.” This is the principle of non-contradiction. According to Aristotle, a first principle is “the first basis from which a thing is known.” That explains why in debates, Bro. Eli is often heard asking his opponent, “On what principle is that based?”

It could be that among the young Eli’s books while he was out of high school were those of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. In Church he goes interactive and asks question after question, but answers a question with another question. This is Socratic. It gets you into thinking. And what a way to approach the word of God; it is very much high-level.

Until now, in his early 70’s, it’s very visible that Bro. Eli is studying very hard not to be left behind scientific studies and general information. If he had stayed in school, he would have only studied for exams and only for the passing grades – just like most students. But by going autodidact, he was free to schedule his learning and plan what to study. Placing very high standards upon himself, it is not surprising that he’s very much informed about God’s creation, he had also looked into long-time claims like going to the moon.

Is man going to the moon possible according to what the Bible tells us? One cannot escape the scrutiny of this man who uses God’s word for everything – and doesn’t apologize for telling the truth. This thing too, he had discussed to the congregation – no matter what claims those who “went to the moon” were saying.  When he was younger, his teachers were encouraging him to become a scientist as he loved science. He was naturally inquisitive.

As the Bible is his book, he also had to study writing and the probable intentions of the writer. The more he studied, the sharper his analytical skills got, that he would ask Why, and then the Why of that Why, and the Why of that other why. He arrives at informed conclusions connecting verse for verse. And with the way he uses his analytical skills, the listeners don’t get bored, but are also following as he makes sense of things.

For one, he’s sensitive with numeral adjectives, he doesn’t take them for granted. When he reads words like “twelve,” “all,” and “some,” he checks what they refer to because they’re that important. Twelve what? All what? Without identifying what these numeral adjectives refer to, it could be terrifying!

“And all the people worshiped him” (referring to the beast). “All,” indeed, would be terrifying if you didn’t know what “all” refers to. What did “all” include? Us, too?

And what preacher is he who can sense that a verse was mistranslated? That Bro. Eli’s ears are piqued for any mistranslation reveals years of patience placed at stopping for every word in frequent consultation with Strong’s concordance, just so there is perfection in all translations.

Is there any other preacher who talks about “parameters of truth” who has not determined what truth is by his reference that is the word of God? Obliged to study and study because aside from feeding the flock of the Members Church of God International, Bro. Eli is ever battling the rising tide of false preachers.

This is not a man who easily shies away from schooling. The way he thinks, analyzes things, and lines up his arguments reveal a man who has deeply studied and is still studying so well out of school. And he has for a teacher, a spirit.

This is yet something one has to figure out: his kind of learning (autodidact) and his kind of teacher (spiritual), are more than ordinary. Could this be why God favors him with understanding? This is not to include yet how he had fought as a young man to let the congregation survive. Oh, the many sufferings his little group had to undergo! But look at it now: MCGI has become international, with congregations all over the world.

“It is the spirit of God that teaches. I am also learning from what I am preaching. There are times I didn’t know that I knew those things I am preaching at the moment. They just come in at the proper times. Read your Bible.”

For the claim that Bro. Eli is not of their level, if that meant nothing, nothingness even is something to rejoice about.

“God is not mistaken about me. God values nothingness, or lowliness. And when God chooses, he chooses the least so that they can confound the wise.”

As mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 –

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

The physical school is not the singular domain whereby man can be taught –because the true teacher is God. If that were true, why then has no one won over him yet in debates? As Bro. Eli has proven, understanding is a gift from God; it is not to be achieved. As the Bible says, only the wise shall understand, but the wicked will not.

So they can’t say they are perfection and he need not blush in his heart.

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

By Jane Abao

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 14.58.25.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the letter from GWR –

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 07.18.56.png

And this is about MCGI winning in the Guinness site –

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 09.38.55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iglesia ni Cristo: Snapping Dissent with Familiar Patterns

By Jane Abao

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worldling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did Soriano think about what’s happening?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interpretations

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

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

At the bottom of his column is written this part:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bro. Eli and the INC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media People Talking

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

Here are excerpts from de Quiros’ column –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Familiar Patterns

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

1) Intervening with the Justice System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) Riding on one-sided media for personal agenda

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

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

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

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

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

3) Promoting lying and falsehood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. No Mercy

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

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The Public is Watching: One-Sided Media

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

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

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

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

A look into a description of this paper says –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Public is Watching: Politician’s Pressure

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

From The Daily Tribune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Court Acquits ADD “Eternal Life” Discussants from Libel Charge

By Jane Abao

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

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

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

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

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

In part, the court said –

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

The court further said –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eli Soriano Not Fugitive from Justice: Two Courts Deny Motions

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (10/22/2014) – Two courts refused to declare an international evangelist a “fugitive from justice” as sought by his enemies, particularly those he had been criticizing for their false beliefs and practices. This means the preacher is still far advanced over his enemies trying hard to see him dead.

BRO. ELI SORIANO. Keeping quiet when he sees something wrong is not his cup of tea. Photo by Sweetwasabe.

As court records would show, Bro. Eliseo Soriano was accused of libel twice for which complainants sought the courts to declare him fugitive from justice but failed to get a favorable ruling.

The preacher who is referred to simply 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.  By practice, the preacher readily exposes false practices in his effort to preach truth from the Bible. He does this particularly through his Bible Expositions or in his preaching to the congregation. The result is sometimes vehement reaction from those who prefer to remain as they are, in terms of filing court cases aside from libel.

The preacher left the country sometime in December 2005 after a series of attacks from the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) in the form of court cases and a raid of the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, north of Manila where Bro. Eli held office.

The complainants in Criminal Case 5957 (For Libel) at the Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 76 of San Mateo Rizal, Philippines sought a motion to declare accused Eliseo Soriano a fugitive from justice and to issue a hold departure against him.

However, in a decision signed by Judge Josephine Zarate Fernandez on August 31, 2007, the motion was denied. Soriano’s counsel had underscored that his client is under intense persecution by the INC, explaining his failure to return to the country.

Despite a court denial, in 2007, two years later, the complainants in Criminal Case 06-248365 (For Libel) at the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region, Branch 8, Manila also sought a motion to declare accused Eliseo Soriano a fugitive from justice. The court this time took pains to explain the meaning of “fugitive from justice” as one already “convicted by final judgment.” Until proven guilty, an accused is considered innocent.

In a decision penned by Presiding Judge Felixberto T. Olalia, Jr. on December 15, 2009, in the absence of evidences to support accusations, the court said the accused cannot be declared a “fugitive from justice,” thereby the motion was denied. Among others, the decision said the prosecution admitted that the accused left the country before the filing of the case (September 5, 2006), therefore the intent to evade prosecution is not present.

Incidentally, the first Libel case (Criminal Case 5957) was dismissed seven years after it was filed. 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 private complainant was a Dr. Nancy Pascua represented by her counsels Atty. Abraham Espejo and Atty. Rodel Morta. Pascua was found vilifying Bro. Eli to her peer doctors who happened to be members of the MCGI that Bro. Eli led. The decision records that at that moment, Pascua was with Bernardo Santiago and his wife, both excommunicated members of the MCGI who were admitted to the INC. For background, Santiago’s wife Yolanda, legally belonged to another MCGI brother for which reason (adultery) Santiago was expelled. Bernardo Santiago is now an INC minister.

Bro. Eli reportedly reacted to the attempt at disinformation: “Baka quack doctor yon kaya galit sa akin,” (She may be a quack and that is why she’s mad at me). It was on this basis that Pascua filed a libel case. The preacher’s statement, however, was reportedly meant to underscore that a true doctor does not inflict pain on people – be it physical, mental or psychological. This case was dismissed including the earlier attempt to declare Bro. Eli a fugitive from justice.

The other case (Criminal Case 06-248365 – For Libel) that failed to get its motion to declare the preacher as fugitive from justice, was archived. According to the camp of Bro. Eli, INC Ministers named Michael Sandoval and Ramil Parba incited Muslim suicide bombers to run after Soriano to avenge the criticisms of the preacher about their beliefs and raid the ADD Convention Center. Here’s an excerpt from their exchanges on television:

Ramil Parba: Hindi ako papayag niyan! Kung ako ngayon ay miyembro ng Abu Sayaff? Miyembro ako ng MILF? Halimbawa, miyembro ako ng Suicide Bombers? Naku! Hindi ako papayag na basta ganun lang yan!  (I would not allow that! If I were a member now of the Abu Sayaff? Member of the MILF? For example, I were a member of the Suicide Bombers? Oh, no! I would not take things just like that!

Michael Sandoval: Lulusob ako sa Apalit. (I would raid Apalit).

The ministers openly did this through Net25 in their program, Ang Tamang Daan.

This went with the filing of a libel case by Muslims against the preacher in 2006 but which was archived after all these years.

These court cases relieving Bro. Eli were not publicized earlier by the MCGI such that enemies capitalized on rumors being perpetuated by his enemies that he is running away from the strong arm of the law. Recently, a disinformer went as far as writing to the editor of a publication in the United Kingdom  named Planet demanding to know why a ‘fugitive from justice” is allowed to advertise his activities instead of being reported to authorities. The MCGI thought it is high time the public should know about these two court decisions.

To Bro. Eli’s camp, the only group that is gaining from this syndrome inflicting injuries on the preacher is the Iglesia ni Cristo. Soriano happens to be the most severe critic of this group.

The “INC Syndrome” to the MCGI is actually a package that includes the following: 1) Excommunication in the MCGI means the person is not anymore acceptable due to filthy living and/or continuing violations of doctrine. But Church members excommunicated from MCGI are readily admitted into the INC after which they are made complainants or witnesses in court cases filed against Bro. Eli; 2) Court cases rain on Bro. Eli running the gamut of libel, obstruction to justice, murder, rape; 3) Net25 is used by the INC ministers to incite Muslims to run after Bro. Eli to avenge his criticisms of Muslim beliefs;

-4) Several broadcast programs of Bro. Eli  or he and his co-anchors get suspended with time or indefinite time by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB); 5) Rape case filed against Bro. Eli by an excommunicated Church member that went to the INC gets dismissed for lack of evidence; the Department of Justice under the Office of the President of the Land intervenes, gets the case elevated to them and then refiled;

-6) Bro. Eli is forced to leave the country late 2005;  7) Net25 is used by the INC ministers welcoming back Bro. Eli home with the free services of Amurao Funeral Homes, Amurao, being their “kapatid.”

-8) Interpol is attempted initially to locate Bro. Eli as Wanted for “sex crimes” which scope is not even covered by the concerns of the international body; 9) Motion to declare Bro. Eli a Fugitive from Justice is filed in two courts; and

-10) Disinformation campaign from the Internet extends to foreign media.

In each of these, Bro. Eli believes the The Almighty he serves has been saving him. Advertisements welcoming people to listen to his Bible Expositions are a part of normal routine. The fact that he advertises himself belies the claim that he is in hiding, the MCGI explained. Secondly, he preaches to the world via satellite and could be located if he is really wanted. The disinformer exerting influence on foreign media had not considered that advertising oneself and preaching openly could hardly be the behavior of a fugitive from justice.

Despite the continued disinformation, instead of seeing Bro. Eli banished from the face of the earth as desired by his enemies, all the more he has widened his base for preaching. When he speaks in Bible Expositions, all six continents are linked to his base. From statistics, the MCGI has tremendously grown over the last seven years since Bro. Eli set base in South America.

When asked about images, tithing, practices that are not espoused by the Bible, Bro. Eli continues to irk religious leaders with his answers. But it is part of his role as Truthcaster, preaching the Bible whole, the preacher claims.

What did the INC not want the world to hear from Bro. Eli as broadcaster? For one, the preacher underscores the devious effect of the Iglesia ni Cristo Command Votes practice that is actively influencing politics in the country. Public knowledge reveals that the members are commanded to elect certain candidates – be it someone judged to be unworthy for the elected position. Failure to do so would  merit sanctions. After the elections, the INC would recommend their people to sensitive positions as forms of payback. The devious effect can be said to have filtered into the justice system of the country by way of these Command Votes for the President of the Land and other national elective positions. [Read this book for more on the justice system: Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court by Marites Danguilan Vitug, Public Trust Media Group Inc 2010].

To analytical minds, “Command Votes” is the right term because there is bloc voting that allows the will of the voter to reign. In contrast, in the Command Votes practice of the INC supposedly for unity, there is no freedom to choose, such that some leave the INC on account of such practice. Most leavers can be found in the MCGI who lament that they had to vote for the rivals of their very own relatives – against their will.

An earlier blog of Jake Astudillo (April 21, 2013, this blogsite)  wrote –

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.

Jake Astudillo is talking about the controversial re-naming of already-named streets to Felix Manalo Street’s by politicians, and granting INC (July 27) holidays to INC members in their localities. It is a practice gradually getting established that takes a less strenuous exercise than having to go to the INC Palace for endorsement or inclusion in bloc voting.

Why do politicians do this – rename streets in heroes’ names into Felix Manalo’s and grant holidays to INC’s in their localities?  Did the INC ask for these street re-naming and July 27 holidays? They did not, some INC claim. Isn’t it an effect or more precisely an offshoot of this Command Votes practice? To re-quote Astudillo, “There is the obvious hope of abbreviated efforts in having to troop to their chapels for endorsement during election time….  this syndrome has affected the country as exemplified by politicians’ sycophantic bestowal of favors to the Iglesia ni Cristo.”

The INC Command Votes practice is really at the root of the INC Syndrome, some quarters swear to that. They get their influence from it and use it to persecute others. Meanwhile, they ensconce themselves in power. This INC is hardly a CHURCH, according to Bro. Eli. If this were a true church, it would not display these symptoms.

But there is the necessity to speak – for the benefit of others. At his age, when Bro. Eli goes, at least he has been harping about the nefarious practices of this so-called very influential group: scattering their grandiose chapels everywhere but deforming their members within. With him, enemies may do everything, but he depends on what God can do.

“I am old. I don’t know how far my work will take me. As to preaching, there’s a direction to follow: from east to west to north to south. We are going north,” Bro. Eli would say.The Bible indeed points to that direction in not only with a single verse. When you consider what the preacher is saying and referring to, it is the Antipodal Map that he is busy following.

Courts Acquit Bro. Eli for the Second Time this Year on Cases Filed by Iglesia ni Cristo Members

By Jane Abao

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.

People's Journal, May 8, 2014
People’s Journal, May 8, 2014

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.

Judge Josephine Zarate-Fernandez dismisses case of attempted murder on January 14. 2014
Judge  dismisses case of attempted murder, Feb 11, 2010. No evidence of alleged conspiracy.

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.

Judge found no malice. Accused acquitted
Judge finds no element of malice. Accused acquitted, Jan 14, 2014.

 

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.

Soriano and his co-hosts in UNTV, after denying the allegation of the Iglesia ni Cristo that they were selling goods inside four church locales, were discussing the Supreme Court decision in People vs. Abella, G.R. No.127803, August 28, 2000 http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2000/aug2000/127803.htm

Judge rules that INC is a public figure. Comments on the Abella case is a matter of public interest.
Judge rules that INC is a public figure. Comments on the Abella case is a matter of public interest. All accused absolved, February 11, 2014.

 

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.