Former Iglesia minister: No libelous statements vs INC

MANILA, Philippines – Responding to the libel complaint filed against him by the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), former minister Isaias Samson Jr denied he made libelous statements against the influential church.

"I did not tarnish the Church's stellar reputation. I did not, at any point in life, make any discreditable statement against the INC," Samson said in his counter-affidavit to the libel complaint filed against him by senior church leaders.

The former minister, who was expelled for "disobedience" and "refusal to submit," said that his statements were directed towards specific individuals whom he accused of placing him and his family under house arrest.

Samson filed his counter-affidavit on Wednesday, September 23, a week after he appeared in a Quezon City court for the start of the preliminary investigation on the libel case filed against him by the INC last July 24.

The complaint was based on Samson's statements made during televised interviews, in which he accused church leaders of illegally detaining him and his family at their Quezon City townhouse from July 16 until July 23. The 7 days are basis for a serious illegal detention charge, which carries with it a penalty of life imprisonment and is a non-bailable offense. 

Not the Church

In its complaint, the INC said that by making his allegations, Samson showed malice – one of the elements necessary to accuse a person of libel – because his remarks "cast INC in a bad light and scurried its reputation."

But Samson denied this. In his counter-affidavit, he said that the INC's complaint "made no clear allegation to indicate such damage to the reputation and that such damage can be attributed to what I said."

He also said that in his media interviews and statements, he did not attribute his claims of illegal detention as the work of the INC.

"I never said it was the church that committed the illegal detention. I never imputed the acts on the church," he said.

"All my statements are directed towards the men who detained me and my family, holding us against our will, scaring us, especially my then sick wife," Samson added. (READ: Iglesia ni Cristo minister Isaias Samson: Life in danger)

In an interview with reporters, Samson again reiterated that he did not seek to challenge the Iglesia nor its executive minister, Eduardo Manalo.

He added that he spoke out about his detention to expose those who do wrong within the church.

"I am fighting against those who commit wrongdoing. I am trying to defend the Iglesia, because wrongdoing will reflect on our leader, and I don't want that to happen," he said. (LISTEN: PODCAST: INC's Samson: We seek reformation, not revolution) – Rappler.com