Face allegations in court, INC tells Menorca

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Religious organization Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) yesterday challenged expelled minister Lowell Menorca II to face the allegations in court as it denied they are behind the slew of libel cases against him.

“As of now, the most proper forum to ferret out the truth concerning the arrest of Mr. Menorca, as well as the libel case itself, would be the courts,” INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said.

Following his release on Friday, Menorca accused the INC of orchestrating the filing of the charges, which resulted in his arrest on Wednesday prior to his scheduled testimony before the Court of Appeals.

The first warrant was issued by a court in Lanao del Norte, while a second arrest warrant – this time from a Marawi City judge – was also served on him while he was in detention.

Reports said a subpoena for a third case filed in Cavite was also served on him on Friday, prior to his release upon posting the P20,000 bail set by the two courts in Mindanao.

Following his release, Menorca warned that he would file a counter charge for harassment if the cases against him were not dropped. He claimed he expects more cases to be filed against him.

On Wednesday, Zabala admitted the libel case filed against Menorca in Lanao del Norte was initiated by a member of INC. He stressed the initiative did not come from the leadership.

Zabala said members of the Society of Communicators and Networks (SCAN) International, the INC’s disaster response team, may have taken offense at Menorca’s previous statements against the group.

Menorca earlier claimed SCAN was being used by the INC for illegal activities.

Zabala said he only learned of the libel case against Menorca following his arrest on Wednesday, maintaining that the schedule of service of the warrant is beyond the control of the complainants.

“We were dumbfounded upon learning that our name is again being besmirched by Mr. Menorca,” Zabala said.

Zabala said the INC is conducting its own inquiry regarding the arrest.

He said members are free to initiate legal proceedings without the need to secure approval from the leadership.

Zabala added the INC is ready for the hearing at the CA and that it is not trying to prevent Menorca from testifying, contrary to insinuations from some groups.

Menorca, for his part, said his legal woes are far from over and accused the INC of being behind the slew of libel cases filed against him.

According to Menorca, he is expecting to receive copies of more or less 10 arrest warrants or subpoenas for libel charges against him “probably today.”

Menorca said the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) would provide him copies of the charges.

Menorca vowed to face all the charges hurled against him in court.

He said he is also consulting his lawyers on filing countersuits against the INC.

“I’m thinking of filing charges of kidnapping, serious illegal detention, violence against women and children, grave threat and coercion and attempted murder against the Sanggunian,” Menorca said, referring to the INC council.

He said the countercharges might be filed after the Court of Appeals concludes the hearing on his petition for a writ of amparo.

Menorca clarified his earlier statements that he would be expecting about 99 libel charges against him. “That was an exaggeration on my part,” he said. – Non Alquitran, Ghio Ong













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