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INC, Menorca face off

Sparks are expected to fly as the Court of Appeals will hear starting at 10 a.m. today the petition for Writs of Habeas Corpus and Amparo filed against the leaders of the Iglesia Ni Cristo by expelled minister Lowell Menorca II.

While Menorca and members of his family are expected to attend the hearing ordered by the Supreme Court, INC leaders led by Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo are not expected to be present.

Sources said that Manalo and council members Radel Cortez, Bienvenido Santiago, and Rolando Esguerra failed to receive the resolution issued by the SC last October 23 that remanded the case to the CA for hearing.

The SC resolution also directed the INC leaders to submit their answer or a verified return of the writ within five days.

The INC leaders are expected to ask for more time to file their answer to the petition filed by Menorca’s relatives – brother Anthony and sister-in-law Jungko D. Otsuka.

A Writ of Amparo is a legal remedy to a person whose right to life, liberty, and security has been violated or threatened, while a Writ of Habeas Corpus is a legal action against an illegal detention.

The petition filed for the Menorca family will be heard and resolved by the CA’s Seventh Division composed of Associate Justices Victoria Isabel Paredes, Magdangal de Leon, and Elihu Ybanez.

The SC’s October 23 resolution ordered INC leaders to present personally before the CA at 10 a.m. on November 3 Lowell and his family members.

To be presented in person before the CA aside from Lowell are Jinky, child Yuri Keiko Otzuka, and Abegail Yanson.

“NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC, as amended, and Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, You, respondents Eduardo Manalo, Radel Cortez, Bienvenido Santiago, and Rolando Esguerra, are hereby required to make a VERIFIED RETURN of these writs before the Court of Appeals within five (5) working days from notice hereof; and APPEAR and PRODUCE the persons of Lowell II Menorca, Jinky Otsuka-Menorca, Yurie Keiko Otsuka, and Abegail Yanson before the Court of Appeals on November 3, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.,” the SC ordered.

While the Writ of Habeas Corpus has become moot and academic with the release of the expelled minister and his family from their alleged detention at the INC compound in Quezon City, Menorca’s lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the case on the Writ of Amparo has to be resolved.

Angeles said Menorca and his family will press for the issuance of a protective order against the INC leadership during the CA hearing.

She said Menorca is ready to face the INC leadership but they are still assessing the threats to him and his family and decide if they will allow him to attend the hearing.

“Priority yung court appearance niya but we will not ignore a serious threat. Ultimately, the danger to his life will be the determining factor,” Angeles said yesterday.

She said Menorca and his family continue to receive threats despite the order of the SC. “Even now, he and his family continue to receive threats,” Angeles said though she did not disclose where the supposed threats are coming.

Angeles denied that they are illegally detaining Yanson, his client’s househelp, and forcing her to testify against the INC in today’s hearing.

She raised suspicions on the timing of the allegations against them.

Yanson’s mother, Rosalie, appealed to Menorca to release her daughter and stop pressuring the 24-year-old nanny to testify on the illegal detention case he filed against leaders of the INC.

The appeal of Rosalie was made during an interview with Eagle Broadcasting Corp., a media unit of the INC, Friday.

But contrary to the allegations against them, Angeles stressed that Abegail volunteered herself to become one of the corroborating witnesses of Menorca.

“She isn’t held against her will and galit na galit sya na ginagamit ang parents nya. She will be issuing a statement possibly on Tuesday. That’s really a lame move, ha. Where’s their case? It’s all acoustic warfare,” Angeles said.

She believes that the recent illegal detention allegations being hurled against them are a supposed tactic of the INC not only to discredit them but also to threaten their witness from testifying today in the CA.