Angel Manalo seeks help vs demolition of home in INC compound

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Angel Manalo, the estranged sibling of Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo, has called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to help stop the “illegal demolition” of their home in the INC compound.

Angel issued the statement on Thursday morning, March 2, after policemen entered the INC compound in 36 Tandang Sora Avenue, where their home is located.

“We are calling on PNP Chief [Ronald] Bato [dela Rosa] and DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno. There is no court order for the demolition of our house. Have mercy on us. Do not just allow us to die and please help us protect our human rights,” he said.

Rappler is still awaiting the response of the INC on Angel's plea. INC spokesman Brother Edwil Zabala has yet to reply to Rappler's query as of posting.

Policemen entered the compound at around 8 am. While the police alerted barangay officials on the operation, the latter were not aware of the purpose of the operation, according to Barangay Councilor Jerry Gonzales.

Chief Police Inspector Pipoy Cuden, who stood outside the gate of the compound  with more than 20 policemen, was also mum on the purpose of the operation and when it would end.

The atmosphere tense as random masked men and police drove away a Rappler researcher and production specialist who were outside 36 Tandang Sora. (READ: Masked men threaten media covering Iglesia conflict)

'Don't interfere with our project'

Angel said the demolition of their home began on Monday, February 27.

"On the 27th of February, men employed by the Iglesia ni Cristo, together with the Barangay and Quezon City Police, invaded the compound where we reside. We heard Reynaldo Ebron, a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo and the current chairman of Barangay New Era, speak on the megaphone. He said, 'Do not interfere with our project,'" Angel said.

The "project," it turned out, involved a backhoe that entered the compound and began tearing one part of their house.

"We couldn't stop them and the women with us in the home panicked, including my wife and children. Aside from the absence of an ejection case against my house, there is no other case and no court order for what they have done. They destroyed two of our bedrooms and punctured one of the walls," he said.

Expelled INC member Lowell Menorca II posted a video of the demolition on his Facebook page.

Angel also said some policemen, who refused to identify themselves, informed them that "there was a report against us."

"We told them that we also served a complaint to the Police on Station 3. We asked the police to call our lawyers. We gave them their numbers. But they never called them," he said.

Staged?

Angel said they were "very surprised" about the news that they had been accused of "firing shots" and hurting someone when the backhoe operation began.

"Nothing like that happened. We are the victims in this incident. We are forced to evacuate from our own home through oppression, hardship and starvation," he said.

A source said that the shots were allegedly "staged" to support the issuance of a search warrant against Angel. 

Police, however, failed to produce a search warrant when they barged into the Manalos' house on Thursday, according to Angel's wife, Jenny. (READ: 'Dapa! Dapa! Dapa!' Cops drive Manalo siblings out of Iglesia compound)

Since the operation began, Angel said his family has not received food and water rations which, he said, mirrored their experience last year. (READ: Sewage water flooding Manalo residence in 36 Tandang Sora)

"We continue to experience harassment and threats. We still have no electricity and water. Our lawyers and other visitors are prohibited to enter and see us. Our condition is worse compared to those in prison," he said.

"This is unknown and unseen to many because the Church is in control of our gate and the whole compound and we are like prisoners in our own home. We are surrounded by armed private securities and CCTVs while metal walls enclose our house," Angel added.

He said that they have "pleaded" to the Commission on Human Rights, the Philippine Red Cross, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, "but our situation has not changed."

Prior to the operation, Iglesia whistleblowers have reported on the demolition of Angel's house.

The property is the subject of a dispute between Hemedez and Angel on one side, and the INC on the other. On August 7, 2016, a Quezon City Court ruled that the siblings will remain at their residence at 36 Tandang Sora, for the time being, as the INC's bid for a writ of execution of an earlier ejection order had been denied.

The incident is the latest in the crisis that hit the influential 101-year-old church, all stemming from the expulsion of Hemedez and Angel following a YouTube video where Angel and their mother, Tenny, claimed a threat to their lives in July 2015 after allegations of corruption were exposed. – With reports from Rambo Talabong/Rappler.com