Menorca freed on bail, sees 99 more libel cases
Non Alquitran (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Former Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) minister Lowell Menorca yesterday posted P20,000 bail at the Manila Regional Trial Court for two libel suits he faces at a court in Marawi City and Lanao del Norte, both in Mindanao.

But Menorca said he might face 99 more libel cases as members of the Society of Communicators and Networkers (Scan) have reportedly sworn to file complaints against him in their own localities for earlier claiming on TV that the INC uses Scan as its death or hit squad.

“All they want is to continuously harass me, suppress me,” Menorca said over GMA 7.

Chief Inspector Arsenio Riparip also recommended yesterday either an award or a commendation for the three policemen who arrested Menorca on Wednesday.

Riparip, Manila Police District general assignment and investigation section chief, denied writing the recommendation but later admitted to “hiding it” after The STAR secured a copy of the document he signed.

 In his letter to MPD director Chief Supt. Rolando Nana, Riparip said the act of Police Officers Arnel Santos, Dennis Ramos and Samson Sison in arresting Menorca was justified and lawful since it was backed by a warrant issued by a Lanao del Norte Regional Trial Court.

“The fact that the arresting officers were in civilian clothes was justified… and there were no indicative proofs during the apprehension that they were carrying their issued firearms,” Riparip argued.

He denied the INC is pressuring the MPD and his recommendations were tinted with politics.

When asked why he tried to hide his recommendation, he only smiled.

Nana said he would study the recommendation and send it up for the board to consider.

Meanwhile, the INC called on the military leadership to look into what it called “highly irregular” security given to Lottie Manalo-Hemedez, the expelled sister of executive minister Eduardo Manalo.

Edwil Zabala, INC spokesman, fears that Hemedez’s continued use of military personnel might endanger the lives of the security guards the church hired to safeguard its Tandang Sora property. 

“The reports that Hemedez is being secured by soldiers 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. 

Records show that 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 captain 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 claimed the assistance provided by Faeldon and other dismissed military personnel “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.”

“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. We hope it does not come to that,” said Zabala.

According to the minister, if proven that the armed guards of Hemedez are active military personnel, then “the AFP should impose administrative sanctions as our armed forces should not be used as anyone’s private army.”  – With Rey Galupo, Ed Amoroso, Ghio Ong

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