“If there is smoke, there is fire,” goes an old, tired, saying. And this is some smoke that won’t go away.
Former Iglesia ni Cristo minister Lowell Menorca faced the press in tears over the weekend, narrating his abduction and his family’s three-month detention at the hands of top officials of the religious group.
According to Menorca, he was taken by members of the Quezon City Police District and some Iglesia officials in Sorsogon on July 16 and then put in a vehicle to Cavite. They planted a grenade onto his lap—and then he was arrested for illegal possession of firearms.
After his release, he and his family were detained at the INC’s central temple in Quezon City. His lawyer rescued him and secured his release.
Menorca was also told that Iglesia members were so angry over an Oct. 23 Supreme Court order compelling church leaders, led by Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo, to appear before the Court of Appeals on Nov. 3.
The flock would reportedly storm Edsa again soon, protesting the inclusion of their leader in the writ of amparo and writ of habeas corpus cases filed as a result of Menorca’s detention.
This brings to mind that unfortunate weekend in August when multitudes of INC members occupied the major thoroughfare, ironically demanding separation of church and state, as they slammed then-Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s “meddling” in the investigation of Menorca’s taking. They wanted de Lima out.
Which she now is—something conveniently aligned to her senatorial aspirations. A happy coincidence, indeed.
The abduction issue and the more encompassing power scandals rocking the group take on greater significance now that national and local candidates have filed their certificates of candidacy and are courting the favor of one of, if not the most, powerful voting bloc in the country.
Happily oblivious of all these are the millions of Iglesia members who dutifully go to church, give their dues and espouse any cause they are fed: Whom to vote for, what to be angry about, and where to congregate next.
Religious affiliations are supposed to provide people comfort in times of struggle, not agitate them into doing something they would not otherwise do.
The chief of the national police has committed to investigate what really happened. Let’s hope the flock won’t go after him next.