Ex-INC minister gets refugee status in Canada
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - April 30, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Expelled Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) minister Lowell Menorca was granted “conditional refugee status” in Vancouver, Canada recently, a few months after he left the Philippines in fear for his life.

Menorca said that he is set to appear for a hearing before the Immigration Refugee Board on May 26 after the Canadian government granted him the conditional refugee status.

“My pregnant wife, child and sister-in-law are still in Thailand, where we fled due to threat on our lives,” Menorca said in a statement dated April 27.

He said that he and his family travelled from the Philippines to Vietnam and flew to Thailand, where they stayed for a few weeks.

Menorca said that he was granted a visa to travel to Canada while his wife and two-year-old daughter were denied. He arrived in Vancouver on April 1.

He filed a refugee claim before the Canada Border Services Agency, which was processed and completed early the next day, April 2.

In the same statement, Menorca pleaded with the Canadian government to his family to join him.

He took a swipe against Philippine politicians, whom he claimed to be “more interested in the solid bloc vote INC has been known to deliver than protecting the rights of its own citizens.”

“INC is being wooed by presidential candidates and aspirants,” he said. 

He claimed they left the Philippines after receiving death threats from his former church.

INC spokesman Edwil Zabala told The Star that the church has “nothing to do with him” as he is no longer a member of the religious sect.

The INC announced on March 7 that Menorca has left the country.

Menorca, who was expelled by the INC for allegedly causing division in the church, was previously arrested for libel while he was on his way to the Court of Appeals for a hearing on the petitions of writs of habeas corpus and amparo he filed against the INC.

He was released shortly after he posted P20,000 bail at the Manila Regional Trial Court for the libel charges filed against him.

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