Expelled Iglesia ni Cristo minister Lowell Menorca II again did not appear in last Monday’s hearing at the Court of Appeals, and his lawyer was not able to give the court a good explanation for his continued absence.
Menorca petitioned the CA last year for the issuance of writs of habeas corpus and amparo in his favor, claiming he was illegally detained by the INC on suspicions of posting entries in a blog exposing supposed anomalies in the religious organization.
The ex-minister already failed to appear in court last March 7. His lawyer, Trixie Cruz-Angeles, told the court her client was missing.
The Bureau of Immigration immediately clarified, however, that Menorca and members of his family hurriedly flew to Vietnam a day before his scheduled hearing. Menorca told immigration and court officials he was supposed to be back to the country on March 20, 2016.
Last Jan. 20, 2016, Menorca was arrested by Manila police on his way to the Court of Appeals because of a warrant of arrest issued in connection with a libel charge he was facing. Menorca was able to post bail and was released.
Menorca has also been charged separately withm adultery and assault. His recent continued absences in court and in the public eye has fueled speculations that he has been evading these strings of cases.
At the latest CA hearing on Monday, which was supposedly set for Menorca’s cross-examination, Angeles manifested that she has not been able to talk to her client and could not explain why Menorca was absent again to testify on his own behalf. INC’s lawyers from the ACCRA law firm moved that the case be rendered moot and academic considering Menorca’s continued non-appearance and apparent lack of interest.
Counsels from both sides were required to submit their respective position papers on the mootness of Menorca’s petition.
“It’s becoming clear that Mr. Menorca is hiding from the court, and is running out of excuses for doing so. How else can you explain his successive non-appearance? The CA was correct in denying his lawyer’s motion to have another witness substitute for him. He should be the one testifying on this matter he himself brought before the Court of Appeals,” ACCRA’s lawyer Trina Prodigalidad explained.