Is this a case of the boy crying wolf?
This is what investigators from the Commission on Human Rights are asking themselves after they were again denied entry inside a section of the Iglesia ni Cristo compound in Quezon City last Monday by the very people who sought the agency’s assistance: expelled INC members Angel Manalo and Lottie Manalo-Hemedez.
CHR-NCR Special Investigator Jun Nalangan, who led a team of CHR personnel, expressed both frustration and confusion over Manalo and Hemedez’s lack of cooperation, saying they themselves called the agency for help but have repeatedly refused to see CHR personnel who seek to verify claims of harassment.
Nalangan said that the CHR had already made five previous attempts to enter 36 Tandang Sora, where the ex-INC members and their families are staying.
Manalo and Hemedez have repeatedly claimed that they were being harassed by the INC leadership for exposing irregularities within the church. The INC has sought the ejectment of the two Manalo siblings because they were illegally occupying church property after losing their status as INC members.
Manalo and Hemedez have disputed INC’s ownership by filing a falsification case on the title of the property, but the complaint has since been dismissed by the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office for lack of evidence.
Nalangan likewise dispelled earlier media reports that Manalo and Hemedez were being deprived of food, water and essential supplies. The two had alleged that deliveries of basic necessities were being screened and restricted by INC security personnel. Manalo and Hemedez’s supporters have decried the restrictions on deliveries inside the compound, which were limited to “office hours.”
Nalangan said these security protocols were normal and within the rights of the INC to implement.
“The owners have every right to ensure the safety of everyone within the premises. Wala naman masama [sa] security concerns. [There is nothing wrong with these security concerns],” said the the CHR investigator.
The INC leadership for its part expressed relief that the misinformation being spread in the media by the expelled members’ camp was slowly being exposed.
INC spokesperson Edwil Zabala said that “the general public is now beginning to realize the complete lack of credibility of these publicity-hungry people and their small group of supporters.”
“They actively sought the help of the Commission on Human Rights, yet when the CHR appears at their doorstep, these expelled church members always give all sorts of excuses not to let the investigators in. That is the classic conduct of people who are hiding something. They do not want the truth to be known,” added Zabala.