IGLESIA ni Cristo minister Lowell Menorca II and his wife Jinky denied on Thursday they were being held against their will at a compound of the religious group even as the Supreme Court ordered the church to produce the couple before the high court.
In an affidavit dated Oct. 22, the Menorca couple said they voluntarily submitted themselves to the protective custody of the church leaders along with their family at the church’s compound in Barangay Central in Quezon City.
“We hereby declare and state that even as of this date, we are under the protective custody of the Church Administration and we are also the ones who have requested the Church Administration about this matter in behalf of ourselves and of our family,” the Menorca couple said.
The affidavit was issued after a petition for writ of amparo and writ of habeas corpus was filed by their relatives before the Supreme Court.
They also asked the SC to enjoin the INC leaders “from doing further harm and even from approaching or transacting” with their family.
“We were never, at any instance, forced, threatened, coerced, influenced nor tricked or promised any material reward or consideration to issue this and the aforementioned statements, as we have executed them voluntarily and willingly,” the couple added.
According to them, they feared for their safety and that of their family members “and, thus, we requested the INC Administration that our family be placed under their care and protection, and voluntarily submitted ourselves to the protective custody of the Church”
“Because of this, INC allowed us to stay inside the INC Central Compound together with our child. They even let our ailing mother stay closer with us from the residence provided to widowed minister’s wife, and allowed our relatives and friends to visit us,” they revealed.
“It is our own personal choice that we remain under INC’s care and protection, until threats against us and our family disappear,” the couple said. “We were never, at any instance, forced, threatened, coerced, influenced nor tricked or promised any material reward or consideration to issue this and the aforementioned statements, as we have executed them voluntarily and willingly.”
“We issue this to respond to allegations that we are being detained, filed against INC officials and we are willing to testify to this in open court given the chance,” the Menorca couple stressed.
Also on Friday, the Supreme Court issued writs of amparo and habeas corpus requiring executive minister Eduardo Manalo and members of church’s council Radel Cortez, Bienvenido Santiago, and Rolando Esguerra to appear before the court on November 3 and present the Menorcas.
The SC also ordered the appellate court to hear the petition filed by Anthony Menorca and Jungko Otsuka on November 3, 2015 at 10 a.m. and “decide the case within 10 days after its submission for decision.”
Anthony is the brother of Lowell, who is allegedly being kept at the INC central office in Quezon City, along with his wife, daughter, and a househelp.
“Considering the allegations contained, the issues raised and the arguments adduced in the petition, it is necessary and proper to issue the writs of amparo and habeas corpus prayed for,” the SC said.
Manalo and the other respondents were also ordered to answer he petition through a “verified return” of the writs to be filed with the CA within five days.
In a petition for writ of habeas corpus and amparo, the brother and sister-in-law of Lowell Menorca II through lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles asked the SC to compel the INC leadership to release the minister and his immediate family from their custody.