With the media reporting that Marines may have been tapped to provide security for Lottie Manalo-Hemedez and her family, officials of the Iglesia ni Cristo called on the military to investigate what INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said was “the highly irregular participation of our armed forces personnel in what is a private and legal dispute.”
“The reports in the media need to be looked into by the proper authorities, especially since former military personnel have already been seen providing security for Mr. Angel Manalo, Ms. Hemedez and their group,” said Zabala.
In October last year, Hemedez’s lawyer Trixie Angeles was accompanied by former military men in an attempt to enter the INC compound in Tandang Sora. Prior to this, Oakwood mutineer and dismissed Army Capt. Nicanor Faeldon also tried to enter the same property.
Faeldon was a former client of Angeles, who represented the Army officer when he was charged for his participation in the Oakwood mutiny in 2003.
Zabala said that the assistance provided by Faeldon and other dismissed military personnel in previous instances “lend credence to reports in the media that there are documents that prove that marines are being used as escorts by these expelled INC members.”
Zabala expressed fears that the continued use of military personnel by Hemedez and her family would endanger the lives of security personnel the church had hired to safeguard the Tandang Sora property.
“Walang laban ang mga security guards namin sa mga marines [our security guards don’t stand a chance against marines]; what we want to avoid is people getting hurt in the course of doing their jobs. Wag naman umabot sa ganun. [We hope it does not come to that.]”
According to the minister, if proven that the armed guards of Hemedez are active military personnel, then “the AFP should impose administrative sanctions on them as our armed forces should not be used as anyone’s private army.”
Meanwhile, the Manila Police District placed under investigation the police officers who took part in the arrest of former Iglesia Ni Cristo minister Lowell Menorca II to determine if they violated police protocol.
“We are looking into this and we will not tolerate wrongdoings. If these policemen did outside the right police procedure, appropriate action will be made,” said MPD spokesperson Marissa Bruno.
On Thursday, the Manila Prosecutors Office ordered that the case of resisting arrest filed against Menorca by the arresting team be set for further investigation to determine probable cause if the expelled INC minister indeed resisted when he was accosted at the corner of Nakpil Street and Taft Avenue Wednesday morning.
The arrest stemmed from the libel case filed against Menorca in Marawi City.
Supt. Albert Barot, MPD Station 5 commander, said members of the Station 10 police recommended the filing of charges against Menorca. Menorca was with his wife Jinky and his bodyguard, who according to policemen, also tried to fight them off.
Menorca admitted that he resisted arrest, saying the policemen were not wearing uniforms and refused to show identification.
At press time, Menorca was still under police custody.
Metro Manila Police director Joel Pagdilao denied allegation that he was involved in Menorca’s abduction in Sorsogon in July last year.