By Jane Abao
Manila, Philippines (July, 1, 2009) – A giant TV network used a self-confessed serial rapist as a resource person recently to discuss a pending case he had filed against a fearless preacher known for exposing false practices.
GMA7, considered the biggest among TV networks in the country used Daniel Veridiano alias Puto as a resource person in an episode in Case Unclosed, a program in GMA7 the night of June 18, 2009.
Veridiano claimed that the preacher, Bro. Eliseo Soriano, raped him on two counts – in 2000 and in 2001. Soriano is the Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God, International (MCGI) or Ang Dating Daan (ADD) as known to the public. Tagged as “the most sensible preacher in our time,” a bible scholar so adept in biblical teachings that any question could be asked of him, he has become an international evangelist since 2005.
With the West as his present focus, Soriano has tremendously increased the membership of the MCGI or ADD in six continents with the effective use of technology. Known as TruthCaster for his biblical expositions, foreigners have largely come to know him through Truth in Focus, a compact disk reproduction of his discussions on the Word of God. Soriano’s preachings therefore have reached remote places like those in South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
Veridiano filed his complaint after a lapse of some 5 years when he could not be admitted back to the folds of the Church and subsequently left for the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) that readily accepted him. Preacher Soriano is considered the most vocal critic of the INC and Veridiano knew that.
According to court records that first dismissed the case, Veridiano is “indisputably ill-motivated from the inception” which is why he had filed the case. Soriano said Veridiano is retaliating for being excommunicated.
As penned by Alexandro Lopez, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Region III, San Fernando, Pampanga and as approved by Jesus Y. Manarang, the Provincial Prosecutor: “The foregoing facts, together with the rift going on between the INC and the ADD, which we cannot deny, only show that the complainant was indisputably ill-motivated from the inception, and these necessarily, without any scintilla of doubt, substantially affect, if not lessen, his credibility as an unperjured affiant.
Case Unclosed is a news and public affairs TV show in the Philippines aired every Thursday evenings by GMA Network. Currently hosted by Arnold Clavio, it supposedly showcases vintage cases unsolved by authorities.
“There was no sense of justice and equity in the Case Unclosed of Arnold Clavio over GMA7. In the first place, the invented rape case against me is still in the courts,” the preacher said. Suggesting that vintage cases should have been the coverage of such a program, he underscored the status of the case that is still in the courts.
Daniel Razon, the Vice Presiding Minister of the Church of God International, and a current executive of UNTV, used to co-anchor a morning show, Unang Hirit, with Arnold Clavio in GMA7. Razon was asked some years back by GMA7 if he could give up something from his religion to please the Iglesia ni Cristo. He instead chose to remain with his faith. From there, Razon was asked to resign.
The Ang Dating Daan began its boycott of GMA on June 19, 2009 the following day that the episode was shown.
GMA is publicly known to compete with ABS-CBN, another TV network, for ratings. The Kapuso network of GMA is bruited about as dominating ratings in Mega Manila and Urban Luzon, based on the data of AGB Nielsen Philippines. But even as they claim so, the ABS-CBN insists its programs from daytime to primetime trumped its rival GMA’s shows nationwide based on overnight TV ratings of Taylor Nelson Sofres. As publicly known, day in- day out, GMA and ABS-CBN would compete for viewer ratings.
The fight for ratings between GMA and ABS-CBN is seen by the Ang Dating Daan sector as partly the reason why GMA7 readily jumped into showing this highly questionable Case Unclosed episode. To reckon, the average number of ADD attendees in Apalit, Pampanga alone during regular thanksgivings is 70,000. If GMA7 thought of creatively increasing their ratings by dealing with this rape case where the accused is an international figure, then this network made a false move. This is the current mood of the ADD now that posted many critical assessments of that GMA show.
The presentation tackled only the side of the complainant, Veridiano, and nothing for the accused, Bro. Eliseo Soriano. As presented in Clavio’s program, Veridiano also added more lies to his statements, obviously calculated to mislead the public and that he is an innocent victim.
Veridiano has become a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo whose habit appears to be that of maligning Soriano. Preacher Soriano routinely exposes the INC of their false beliefs using largely the text discourses in the INC magazine, Pasugo. With it, Soriano has found many errors which he would discuss in bible expositions that obviously embarrass the INC ministers no end. As an effect, the dwindling of the INC membership is credited to Soriano whose preachings were able to enlighten several members of the INC to leave their chapels and join ADD.
“It was in May of 2000 when he summoned me to his room. I was shocked at what followed. At that time I couldn’t resist his advances. There is a teaching in Ang Dating Daan which says the messenger of God does not commit sin. Whatever he does to you is right and just. At that time, I was really terrified of him; and there also is a teaching in Ang Dating Daan that one must do what Soriano tells him to do, at all times. Obey him, otherwise you’ll be cursed. Something really, really bad will happen to you if you disobey this supposed messenger of God,” Veridiano said in Clavio’s program.
Veridiano ended his drama with this statement that sounded like a warning about a dangerous man: “If I don’t fight and speak up, a lot of people will be in danger; and they need to know what he really is and that he is not sinless and he is not true.”
The Ang Dating Daan is readying charges against Veridiano, Arnold Clavio, and GMA. Veridiano knows very well that there is no teaching in Ang Dating Daan from where he was ex-communicated that the messenger does not commit sin and that what he tells one to do is a command to be followed or else one gets cursed.
That Veridiano had been raping his subordinates over many years, taking advantage of a Church credit card for a considerable time, vacationing around beaches during worship services, and traveling abroad at the expense of the Church money entrusted to him are facts that run counter to his made-up stories. Soriano said Veridiano was given all the chances to reform, but he did not. Instead, he tried to cover up some of his doings that surfaced later on after he was expelled from the ADD environs.
Veridiano was excommunicated from the church by Soriano in August 2005 upon recommendation of an investigating panel tasked to look into complaints of raping his subordinates at the ADDCIT, and gross misappropriation of church funds. Some 14 boys had complained of rape and acts of lasciviousness where Veridiano had admitted of the 9 in a confession letter that he wrote to two ministers of the Church dated November 21, 2004.
Records show that the double rape case was filed in October 2005 but was dismissed on January 6, 2006 for lack of evidence by the Regional Court of Pampanga. It was re-filed in higher court by the then Secretary of Justice, Raul Gonzalez who was particularly interested in the case. Through a memorandum to RSP Jesus Simbulan, ORSP, Region III, Gonzalez directed that the records of the case be elevated to his office. To the Ang Dating Daan, however, this action is highly irregular and suspect.
As earlier reported, Soriano explained to the congregation worldwide via satellite that he could not give a statement regarding the case. As such, Clavio should not have gone ahead and aired that episode, knowing fully well that his report is not balanced.
“There was an email to me why we do not answer the broadcast of GMA. There is a principle of sub judice. Under our laws, I cannot answer because I will be cited for contempt of court. That case has just started. It should not be part of the program, Case Unclosed,” Soriano said. “If a case is already in the court, you cannot speak on the merits of it. That would be under the principle of sub judice. However, not talking about it does not mean that we are not responding at all,” he added.
Meanwhile, members of Ang Dating Daan are actively encouraging their peers to delete GMA from their list of TV channels. All over the web, all church locales including those overseas are actively voicing their opinions of a biased TV network. Behind it all, however, they see the invisible hand of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) that habitually makes things difficult for the preacher and the ADD.
The INC intervention in the biblical expositions of Preacher Soriano reveals a pattern. Whenever the ADD would rent public venues for the affair, most often there is interruption, or the management of the place that has been paid for, calls for cancellation. This was what happened in Bulacan. In Malolos, a new Chief of Police that was a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo said the ADD could not use the paid-for venue but he could not give a reason at all. The ADD staff had to remove all their stuff and leave the place.
They recall that the same thing happened in Cainta, Rizal, in Tagaytay, and in Puerto Princesca of Palawan. In Palawan, it was the Office of the President, Gloria Arroyo, that called management not to let ADD use the facilities.
In Virac, Catanduanes, the management did not allow the ADD to use the facilities. Electrical wires were destroyed just so the air conditioning system of the building would not be usable. The bible exposition then was delayed.
Soriano then reminded his men not to be renting public places as the public officials are beholden to the Iglesia ni Cristo. The INC finds power in their practice of bloc voting where every member has to vote for the choice of their church leader. Every election time, the New Era palace of the INC in the Commonwealth Avenue of Quezon City becomes the beat of politicians seeking their endorsement. Such endorsements later on, however, transform into political debts that have to be collected later on in the form of interventions in government systems. This is what Preacher Soriano would condemn often as the root cause of corruption in government systems to include justice.
“I think they want to put me on hold,” Bro. Soriano said, referring to the INC. Perhaps they are so envious that we are able to establish churches in other parts of the world. Let them wait for the fulfillment of the prophecy. Let them witness the unfolding of the Church of God in the West.
“The Church of Manalo came ahead of us in Saudi Arabia but we are greater in number now than they are. I don’t know if they can influence the government here. The laws here are different,” Soriano who is overseas said.