INC chief Eduardo Manalo named envoy for OFW concerns
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The head of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), an influential religious group that backed President Duterte’s candidacy during the 2016 election, has been named special envoy for Filipino migrants.

Eduardo Manalo, INC executive minister, has been appointed special envoy for overseas Filipinos’ concerns, documents released yesterday by Malacañang showed. His tenure runs from Jan. 30, 2018 to Jan. 29, 2019. 

Known for its bloc voting, the group endorsed Duterte and vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the last national elections. Duterte won by a landslide while Marcos lost to Vice President Leni Robredo by more than 200,000 votes. Marcos claims he is a victim of massive cheating and has questioned the poll result before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. 

Manalo assumed as INC’s executive minister after the death of his father Eraño in 2009. The religious group, which has more than two million members and presence in 78 countries, is wooed by candidates during elections because of its bloc voting practice.

Aside from Manalo, Duterte appointed Herman Jumilla as budget undersecretary, replacing Gertrudo de Leon, who was fired last October after being accused of corruption. 

He also appointed Rochelle Sero, Annabelle de Asis, Darwin David, Salvacion Baccay, Amada Dumagat, Ellen Chua, Julius Cal-Ortiz, Mayer Adong, Mary Jane Nacario, Dennis Quiñones, Jesus Naquila, Debie Torres, Carmelo Orbista, Lerma Campaner, Judy Batulan, Frederick Gumabol, Virgilio Sison, Martin Moral, John Mosquito and Visitacion Martinez as local government operations officers VIII.

Maria Sardua, Lailyn Ortiz, Arnaldo Escober Jr., Artemio Caneja and Donald Seronay were named interior and local government directors III while Leocadio Trovela, Odilon Pasaraba and Romeo Benitez were named interior and local government directors IV.

Malacañang also released the names of new prosecutors in the country. They are Candice Agapay (Lucena); Manolo Vergara, Nelson Pagaduan, Melissa Perola and Erma Remudaro (Manila); Lorevi Setias and Kareen de la Cruz (Iloilo); Editha Fernandez and Agnes Arellano (office of the secretary of justice prosecution staff); Julius Gaurano, Philomel Francisco Jr. and Carmelita delos Santos (Makati); Tristan Cledera (Quezon); Nikko Batingana (Pasig); Rina Alcantara (Pasay), and Danilo Lim (Rizal).

Duterte is also expected to name his first appointee to the Commission on Audit (COA) following the retirement of commissioner Isabel Agito last Feb. 2.

His retirement leaves one seat at the three-man COA commission proper vacant. The commission proper is composed of a chairman, a post now being held by Michael Aguinaldo, and two commissioners, one being held by Jose Fabia. The commission proper reviews the audit findings as well as notices of disallowance issued by various COA sectors.

Agito was appointed COA commissioner on Jan. 15, 2016 by then president Benigno Aquino III to serve the remaining term of former commissioner Heidi Mendoza who was appointed as undersecretary-general for the United Nations Internal Oversight Services.

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and lawyer, Agito is a career COA official who rose from the ranks and has 42 years of expertise in the fields of audit, law, governance, training and administration.

“Of course I will miss my work when I retire. I will miss the audit itself, the intense and fiery debates, the passionate exchange of ideas and opinions amongst brilliant minds in the commission. I am greatly honored to be a part of the COA family. And I will forever be proud to be a COAn,” Agito said in a speech during a program to honor her.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has been alerted for the possible flight of 24 expelled members of INC, including the brother and sister of executive minister Eduardo Manalo, who are facing criminal charges for illegal possession of firearms.

Judge Luisito Cortez of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 84 issued the watchlist order against Felix Nathaniel Manalo, Lolita Manalo-Hemedez and 22 others and directed the BI not to allow the accused from leaving the country without court permission.

It also required the bureau to submit reports of past and present travel itineraries of the indicted former INC members.

The RTC stressed that “of the 24 accused, only nine have been apprehended and others might have been intending to abscond to avoid the processes of the Court.”

The 24 were earlier indicted for illegal possession of firearms after allegedly firing indiscriminately at a law enforcement team that served a search warrant for an area covered by the INC property in Quezon City in March last year.

Authorities confiscated 26 shotguns, seven caliber .22 guns, two M-16 rifles and one M1 carbine, all loaded with live ammunition, immediately after the incident.   

Two of the accused, Jonathan Ledesma and Joseph Sabbacula, are also facing frustrated murder and direct assault charges for shooting and wounding two members of a Special Weapons and Tactics team.  – Edu Punay, Elizabeth Marcelo

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