Leaders of the Iglesia Ni Cristo may file their answer to the criminal charges filed against them by expelled minister Isaias Samson Jr. and his family even after the Department of Justice has concluded its preliminary investigation hearing.
The DoJ’s investigating prosecutors may still accept the answers or counter affidavits of the respondents on the Samson family’s charges of harassment, illegal detention, threats and coercion against eight members of the INC’s Sanggunian or council if they found it meritorious.
According to Samson’s lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles, the respondents may still opt to file a motion to reopen the preliminary investigation hearing and justify why they were not able to appear in last Friday’s hearing.
“If the panel accepts their reason, the respondents may still be able to submit their answers to allow the DoJ to resolve the case with both sides presented,” Angeles said in an interview.
The respondent INC ministers—Glicero Santos Jr., Radel Cortez, Bienvenido Santiago Sr., Mathusalem Pareja, Rolando Esguerra, Eraño Codera, Rodelio Cabrerra and Maximo Bularan Jr. —or their lawyers were not able to appear in the hearing.
Investigating Assistant State Prosecutors Mark Estepa and Olivia Torrevillas decided to submit the complaint for resolution without the respondents’ side, saying they have been duly notified via subpoena and considering the media reports about the hearing.
Samson, his wife Myrna Dionela and son Isaiah appeared before the DoJ panel and affirmed their affidavits.
Samson said he would have wanted the INC ministers to answer his charges “for the truth to finally come out.”
But the complainant stressed that his criminal complaint does not target the INC as an institution, saying he still believes that the church could weather the present challenges.
“This is not against the church. I did not include Ka Eduardo [Manalo] because I believe he is not involved. This case is just against certain people in the church,” he said.
Samson said he believed the best solution would be for the ministers he named in his complaint to resign from the INC Sanggunian to let the church reclaim its old glory.
In the same hearing, another expelled INC member who also claimed abduction by the INC’s Sanggunian has surfaced to affirm a similar complaint he filed with the DOJ.