Sibling of ‘abducted’ minister to INC Council: Free my brother

MANILA, Philippines – Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) minister Lowell “Boyet” Menorca II already told INC-run television station Net 25 he was not abducted and tortured by the Sanggunian (Council), but his brother says otherwise.

Hindi po totoo ‘yun (That's not true)," Boyet’s younger brother Anthony said in a phone interview with Rappler late Wednesday night, July 29.

Kung makikita niyo po ang pagsalita ng aking kapatid sa Net 25, ‘yun po ay pawang kasinungalingan dahil siya po ay dinukot (If you check what my brother said to Net 25, everything was a lie because he was really abducted),” said Anthony.

A blogger with a pseudonym “Antonio Ramirez Ebangelista,” who has been exposing alleged wrongdoing in the century-old church, had claimed that Boyet was one of several INC ministers allegedly kidnapped.

Boyet denied this when he was interviewed by INC spokesman Edwil Zabala on July 29 at the INC central office.

Nandito po ako. Pinatutunayan ko po na ako po ay ligtas. Kapiling ko po ang pamilya ko,” he said. (I am here. I am safe. I am with my family.)

But Anthony believes his brother was only forced to say this, as the Council has allegedly taken Boyet’s wife and their one-year-old child.

Missing family members

Anthony added that he could no longer contact his 71-year-old mother, his female cousin, her husband, and their 3 children who currently live in a condominium near the INC central office.

Another INC insider said it is almost impossible to visit the said condominium without the central office finding out.

Panawagan ko po sa Sanggunian ay ilabas po nila ang aking kapatid sa central [office]. Ilabas na po nila ang asawa [niya],” Anthony said. (I ask the Sanggunian to release my brother from the central office. Release his wife.)

He gave names of people who are supposedly part of the INC Council – INC general auditor Glicerio Santos Jr, Bienvenido Santiago, Benefrido Santiago, Jun Soratos, Radel Cortez, and Roland Esguerra – and blamed them for what is happening to his family. (READ: Part 1: Who is Glicerio Santos Jr in the Iglesia ni Cristo?)

Pag may nangyari sa aking masama, sila [ang] hanapin (If something happens to me, look for them)," Anthony said.

Boyet framed?

Besides claiming that his brother Boyet said things under duress during the interview, Anthony also said his brother was framed when he was arrested in Dasmariñas City, Cavite on July 17.

Police charged Boyet with grave threats and illegal possession of firearms for allegedly threatening two construction workers with a hand grenade.

Gawa-gawa na lang po ‘yun. Di po siya ganun eh. Mabuti siyang tao. Di nga po gumagawa ng kabalbalan yun. Ministro po siya ng Iglesia eh,” Anthony reasoned. (That's all made up. He's not like that. He's a good man. He doesn't do anything stupid. He's a minister of the Iglesia.)

He said he was able to visit Boyet in jail late in the afternoon of Saturday, July 25. At the time, Allen Blair Boy, the lawyer sent by the INC to represent Boyet, was not in the precinct.

Doon kami nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na makapag-usap na kaming dalawa lang," Anthony said. (We were able to talk alone, just the two of us.)

Binantaan kami ng kapatid ko na kami ay papatayin (My brother warned us we will be killed)," he continued.

Boy previously told Rappler that Boyet personally refused to talk to the media because he wants his case to be a “private” affair. Anthony believes this is false.

Prove it

Bakit di po nila mapalabas sa public? Bakit di sila magkaroon ng press con? Bakit Net 25 lang ang nag-iinterview? Bakit puro papel lang ang pinakita sa inyo?” he said, referring to the affidavits signed by his brother which supposedly authorized Boy to represent Boyet.

(Why aren't they showing him to the public? Why not hold a press con? Why is it only Net 25 being allowed to do the interview? Why did they just show papers?) Net 25 is an Iglesia-run TV station.

Boyet was released from jail early in the evening of July 25. Police say he left with Boy but his whereabouts remained unknown until he appeared on Net 25.

Anthony is currently hiding in an undisclosed location, but he continues to fear for his family’s life, especially that of his brother.

Sa kuya ko po, magpakatatag lang po siya at malalagpasan din po itong lahat," he said. (To my older brother, please stay strong and you will get past this.)

‘Wag na po kaming pakialaman ng Sanggu (Sanggu should not bother us any more)," Anthony continued. “Palayain na po si kuya (Free my brother)." – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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