MANILA, Philippines – Who is Glicerio Santos Jr and what is his role in the current feud that’s wracking the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC)? Why has his name been dragged into the controversy?
Those sympathetic to the side of INC expelled minister Felix Nathaniel "Angel" Manalo and his mother Cristina "Tenny" alleged it was Santos who alienated INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo from his family.
This was supposedly part of a power play and struggle that saw several old INC officials being kicked out after the death of the former executive minister, Eraño "Ka Erdy" Manalo.
The elder Manalo was known for his austere lifestyle, resisting calls from concerned Iglesia members for him to seek medication when he got ill. INC insiders told Rappler "Ka Erdy" believed that money collected from members should not be spent by him. "Pera ng Diyos (money of God)," as he called it, was not meant for him.
Not long after Eraño’s death, the Iglesia's Sanggunian or Council under the new executive minister Eduardo underwent a purge. Eraño’s other son Angel and his wife Tenny could not do anything about it because Eduardo had already assumed the post of executive minister. The mother had not spoken with the son since then.
Only one of the 12 members survived the Sanggunian shake-up: Glicerio Santos Jr.
“Pinakabilin-bilinan siya ni Ka Erdy (Eraño) kay Ka Eduardo,” said one INC member. (Ka Erdy entrusted him to Ka Eduardo.)
The elder Eraño had advised his son Eduardo to always listen to the good counsel of Santos, who was also known as "Kidlat" because he was “quick to act” and was able to deliver on difficult tasks assigned to him. “If there’s an impossible task, give it to Santos,” the INC member who has contacts with church higher-ups said.
Santos was appointed treasurer and general auditor of the church’s finances. He held considerable power, but to members, he was simply known to be in charge of “pananalapi” or church funds.
Also described as a "bean counter and bureaucrat" by others who knew him, Santos, now about 76 years old, showed a willingness to "adapt to the new leadership," another INC insider said.
He eventually became more entrenched as his own son, lawyer Glicerio Santos IV, became legal counsel of the Iglesia.
Referring to the elder Santos, the other INC member said, "Everyone knows he's the number 2 guy. He is the second most powerful man in the INC." If he isn’t the second most, he is certainly among the most powerful in the governing Council or Sanggunian.
Iglesia members who want to set their church back on the right path said it was Santos who was behind the recent big-ticket projects of the Iglesia (including the grand $200-million Philippine Arena), the purchases of properties both here and abroad, including the abandoned town in South Dakota which was reportedly purchased for $700,000.
His clout extends beyond the INC. Santos wields enough influence that he was reportedly able to intercede for Ja Hoon Ku, a Korean wanted in his country for allegedly embezzling over $200 million from his company. Ja, who was a contractor for the Philippine Arena, had become an Iglesia convert.
The Korean was detained by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in January 2014 after the Korean embassy sought his arrest and deportation. But he was granted temporary liberty when Malacañang, through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, issued an order on March 19 of the same year allowing Ja's provisional liberty – he would be free until August 31, 2014 or until his appeal was resolved..
A report by ABS-CBN said that the BI placed Ja under the custody of Santos as part of Ochoa's order. In the same order, ABS-CBN said that "Glicerio B Santos Jr, General Auditor of the INC, should be required to execute an Affidavit of Undertaking specifying that he will absolutely be responsible for Respondent's custody."
For this story, we sought to interview INC spokesperson Edwil Zabala but he could not be reached. But in an earlier interview with Rappler, Zabala said Iglesia may hale to court anyone who makes false accusations against the church.
"Sa tamang lugar, sa tamang paraan, ang Iglesia haharap, sasagot kapagka mayroong ipineprisintang pruweba," he said. (The Church will face the allegations at the proper time and if there is evidence being presented.)
The INC chief has reposed his full trust and confidence in Santos bordering on blind faith such that, he may know more about the finances of the INC than the executive minister himself.
If the Manalos are considered by many as the spiritual heads of the INC, Santos and his family – based on official documents – appear to be controlling vital operations of the church.
Consider the following:
Notes about the entities mentioned above:
Santos III and Santos IV are sons of Santos Jr, while Anita Santos is his wife.
With 3 already locked votes, they can easliy control decisions on how to run the businesses and non-profit NGOs of the INC. We have verified at least 8 entities where members of the Santos family have a presence.
Latest 2013 financial statements submitted to the SEC showed that the FYM Foundation declared P128,273,658 in fund balances, while its sister company, the Subic Bay-FYM Foundation reported P1,011,763 for the same period.
FYM Medical Foundation declared P20,956,809 in fund balances in 2013, while Unlad International registered a fund balance of P26,213,599. Based on a video posted on the INC's official website, Unlad International has set up training centers on garment manufacturing and eco-farming for INC members, and indigenous communities in various parts of the country.
Maligaya Development Corporation posted a net income of P1,482,599 for 2013. New Era last submitted a financial statement in 2008, when it declared a fund balance of P172,786,318.
But the listings indicate the involvement of the Santoses only in local corporations and foundations. There are more. – with Chay F. Hofileña/Rappler.com