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Expelled INC members call for justice for slain ex-member

MANILA, Philippines – Expelled members of influential homegrown church Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) called for justice for one of their slain fellows, who was gunned down by an unidentified suspect while traveling to Cavite last week.

According to a report from the Kawit Municipal Police Station, Jose Norilito Fruto was shot several times by an unidentified gunman as he was driving along Cavitex Exit in Barangay Marulas, Kawit, Cavite, at around 1:30 am last May 24.

Fruto, who was driving a black Mazda vehicle, was shot as he reached the corner of Cavitex Exit and Tirona Highway. He sustained multiple gunshot wounds on his head and body, killing him on the spot.

The Cavite scene of the crime operatives, led by Police Senior Inspector Fernando Perilla, recovered from the crime scene 4 fired cartridge cases of caliber .45 and one fired bullet inside the vehicle.

Several excommunicated INC members allege that the killing may have been perpetrated by church officials, whom Fruto has publicly spoken out against.

Fruto, a US citizen, was expelled from the INC in 2015 because of his critical statements against the church, which had been rocked by corruption scandals and allegations of abductions supposedly perpetrated by top INC officials. 

In November 2015, he filed a complaint against members of the INC's top administrative body, the Sanggunian, accusing them of coercion, harassment, threats, and arbitrary detention.

Fruto said he had been forcibly taken at gunpoint from his Caloocan City residence based on a complaint of alleged rape against him, which he said was fabricated.

He told reporters then that he was targeted because he was helping Angel and Tenny Manalo, the estranged sibling and mother of INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo.

In a statement, excommunicated INC member Lowell Menorca II called Fruto "one of the bravest people" he knew who fought for truth despite alleged threats to his life.

"We just lost a comrade at arms, this is a sad day for truth-loving Christians all over the world," Menorca said. – Rappler.com