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MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) upheld its decision that affirmed a lower court’s ruling to compel Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo II, the younger brother of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo, to reveal the names of their witnesses in their pending case.
In a resolution dated September 11, but was made public on September 14, the CA’s former Ninth Division denied the younger Manalo and his companion’s motion for reconsideration.
“After a careful review of petitioners’ motion, we find that the instant motion deserves scant consideration. As observed by the Office of the Solicitor General in its comment, the arguments put forward by petitioners have been sufficiently addressed in our February 23, 2023 decision,” the resolution penned by Associate Justice Jaime Fortunato Caringal read. Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Louis Acosta also concurred.
In their motion, the petitioners insisted the amendment in their criminal case “would prejudice their rights,” adding that the disclosure of the names of their witness would constitute a violation of their right against self-incrimination.
However, the CA said it found no compelling reason to modify or reverse their decision in the absence of a novel argument from the petitioners.
What happened before
The petition stemmed from Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216’s decision, which required the petitioners to name the witnesses they want to present. Aside from that, the QC court also allowed the prosecution to amend the charge by changing the serial number of a firearm confiscated in the raid.
Petitioners (Angel) Manalo, Victor Hemedez, Jojo Moreno, and Jonathan Ledesma sought the CA’s help and filed a petition for certiorari, which is used to review a decision of a lower court. However, the appellate court ruled against them in its decision dated February 23, 2023.
In the said decision, the appellate court dismissed the petition for certiorari by the petitioners, and upheld that they should reveal the identities of their witnesses. The CA, in ruling on the petition for certiorari, said it found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the lower court.
It added that the right against self-incrimination should be invoked at a proper time.
The petitioners later filed a motion for reconsideration, which was recently junked by the CA. In September 2022, the CA ruled that the evidence recovered during the “illegal search” against Angel and his companions cannot be used against them.
In March 2017, the police conducted a search and seizure operation inside Angel’s house in the INC compound. Firearms and ammunition were said to have been recovered from the search resulting in the detention of Angel and his companions.
Prior to that, in 2015, the INC was rocked by controversies after its members accused their officials of corruption and allegedly detaining ministers. Angel and his mother Tenny appealed for help in a public video and said their lives were in danger.
This resulted in the massing up of thousands of INC members in the streets to decry alleged moves by the justice department under then-secretary Leila de Lima to arrest their church leaders. However, these allegations turned out to be false. – Rappler.com