“Just when the Sanggunian thought everything was working out on their favor, their actions in response to the past events only unravelled one mistake after another and followed by a series of cover ups. As a result, the graveness of their situation has spiralled only in one direction- downwards! Until now, they are shooting arrows on the wind, responding to situations impulsively as if they are Running the Bulls of Pamplona, spiralling not only downwards but into every street corner in uncontrolable chaos.” A.E.
Deflecting Attention Does Not a Defense Make
On Tuesday, August 25th, Bro. Isaias Samson Jr. (“Bro. Jun”), his wife, Sis. Myrna, and their son, Bro. Isaiah filed an illegal detention suit against 8 members of the Sanggunian, namely, Glicerio B. Santos Jr., Radel G. Cortez, Bienvenido C. Santiago Sr., Mathusalem V. Pareja, Rolando A. Esguerra, Erano Codera, Rodelio Cabrerra, and Maximo Bularan. Other charges cited in the complaint affidavit include harassment, threats, and coercion. This is the latest in the many “firsts” in the history of the Iglesia ni Cristo, in what the media has come to refer to as “crisis in the current INC leadership”.
The Samson family’s illegal detention complaint is a direct result of actions taken by members of the Sanggunian in mid-July 2015. The Sanggunian placed the family under house arrest for 9 days, cut off their communication with the outside world (except when it suited the Sanggunian’s objectives), subjected the family to intense interrogation, seized their personal cellphones and laptop, forced the family to surrender their passports, and pressured Bro. Jun to agree to lie in order to discredit Sis. Tenny and Bro. Angel Manalo. Such actions were driven by the Sanggunian’s misguided impression that Bro. Jun is hiding behind the name “Antonio Ebangelista” (or AE, for short), author of various articles exposing corruption involving Church officials.
The Sanggunian, acting with unfettered arrogance, trampled upon the Samson family’s rights under Philippine law. Used to getting away with similar, and sometimes, worse offenses, the Sanggunian committed a major error in judgment when it mistakenly assumed that oppression and other unlawful acts committed behind the protective walls of the Church, against its own ministers and members, can be forever hidden and suppressed. It has come to rely on its usual tools of intimidation to silence those who needed to be silenced. Their arsenal includes threats of expulsion, excommunication, bodily injury, destruction of one’s reputation, property, livelihood, physical harm, “disappearance” of family members, and at times, all of the above. It is terrifying to imagine what worse fate might have befallen the Samson family had they not escaped when they did. God’s intervention was indeed very timely.
Now adding to the growing pile of embarrassments faced by the Church, is the lawsuit filed by the Samson family which brings to the fore the atrocities committed by the Sanggunian against their own ministers and members. While not the norm, these vicious acts against the Samson family are not an isolated case but just another example of the Sanggunian’s perverted sense of justice and entitlement. Drunken with power and supercilious self-importance, they have appointed themselves judge, jury and executioner.
Yesterday, August 26th, the official response from the INC Leadership was delivered by Bro. Bienvenido C. Santiago, INC General Evangelist, a member of the Sanggunian, and co-respondent in the complaint filed by Bro. Jun Samson and family. As I was listening to his announcement, I could not help but remark on how WEAK his response was! Basically, he attempted to switch the focus away from the complaint at hand by accusing Justice Secretary Leila De Lima of being “biased”, of giving “excessive attention” and “even personally handling” the illegal detention case filed by the Samson family. I actually had to look closer to make sure it was Bro. Bien and not VP Binay who was speaking. [Recall that VP Binay recently criticized Secretary De Lima publicly for doing her job of investigating abduction allegations against the Sanggunian. VP Binay is, of course, a contender for the highest office in the land whose ratings have been steadily declining due to allegations of corruption. VP Binay, will, of course, do and say just about anything to be in the INC’s good graces because he badly needs the INC’s bloc voting support next year. Come on, Mr. Binay, you are smarter than that! INC will vote for the most likely winner based on official survey results, as well as informal surveys INC itself conducts prior to the election. If the survey results continue to point to someone else as the likely winner, why on earth will INC vote for you?! Why don’t you take a moment to ponder on that?
Bro. Bien further added that it is “natural for the Church to impose disciplinary actions against its members” such as Bro. Jun whom they accused of causing schism in the Church. Let me get this straight – is this an admission of guilt? Because it sure sounds like it. Not only did you not deny placing the Samson family under house arrest, you actually admitted to disciplining members when, in your judgment, they’ve erred. I suppose holding members against their will is part of that discipline. Do you even notice that the more you speak, the deeper the hole you actually dig for yourself and other members of the Sanggunian?
Just to clarify, does “discipline” in the Church now include violating ministers’ and members’ rights under the law? Is this why the Sanggunian saw the need to have Church members update Records Form R2-01 and require them to sign a new Supplementary R2-01a Form stating that the member voluntarily agrees to obey and be “disciplined” by the Church for violation? Did you actually explain to members before you make them sign what you meant by “discipline”? Because, if not, then this might have been another wasted effort on your part because this “agreement” will not hold up in a court of law.
Bro. Bien also questioned Secretary de Lima’s motives in prioritizing the Samson family case over SAF 44. Bro. Bien, it is your motives we question as well as those of your associates in the Sanggunian. You used to be an honorable minister. Why do you now choose to side with criminals? If there is an ounce of honor left in you, be a man and stand up for the truth. Do not allow your fellow Sanggunian to further bully you into what you have become – a puppet and a spokesperson for liars! Do you honestly think these Sanggunian members will protect you when the time comes? You’ve seen what they are capable of. They will be the first to stick a knife in your back! Mark my words…
Illegal detention has come to the forefront in the recent past, thanks to the efforts of the victim in that case, Benhur Luy, the support of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the prosecutors, and, of course, the unrelenting media attention. Together, they successfully put Janet Lim-Napoles, Benhur’s captor, behind bars. Score one for justice!
There is a striking similarity between the complaint filed by Mr. Luy and that filed by the Samson family. Mr. Luy “was taken against his will so he would not be able to spill the beans on Napoles’ anomalous transactions”. The Samson family was likewise held hostage in their own homes because Bro. Jun was suspected of exposing the corrupt and anomalous practices of the members of the Sanggunian inside and outside the Church. It remains to be seen how the Samson family’s case will end. It is our hope and prayer that justice will once again prevail and those responsible will get what is coming to them.
Secretary de Lima, we are grateful to you for what you have done so far. You have shown incredible strength, courage, and dedication to the duty you have sworn to uphold. We realize you are under incredible pressure from the INC Sanggunian and from their allies in politics and government, especially those with higher political aspirations who have stooped so low as to court the Sanggunian for the precious INC votes. Everyone is watching you and counting on you to do what is fair and just. Please know that you are included in our prayers. May God continue to watch over you and keep you safe. God is working His justice through you.
– From a faithful member of the Iglesia ni Cristo who is one with God, with our Lord Jesus Christ, and a corrupt-free Church Administration.
“They tried to bury us…they didn’t know we were seeds.”
Official Website: http://www.incdefenders.org/
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