What does this man, Bro. Benefrido C. Santiago, a Minister even, a worker for our Lord Jesus Christ, have anything to do with a sinister and serious act of forceful taking or kidnapping of an evangelical worker of the Iglesia Ni Cristo?
Is it true? Or are these just lies concocted to make them look bad? Why don’t we let him be the one to tell us exactly what his over-all participation in the kidnapping of Bro. Lowell Menorca II. Let the very words of Bro. Benefrido C. Santiago reveal exactly what happened, how he is trying to downplay it and how the whole church administration is desperately trying to cover it all up. Featuring: Bro. Benefrido C. Santiago’s sworn affidavit, duly notarized and submitted to the Court f Appeals as evidence. But after realizing how weak his defense was, he tried to “tweak” his affidavit, not knowing it did more damage to him than good with his supplemental affidavit: Bro. Benefrido C. Santiago’s Supplemental Affidavit.
And for the few remaining blind followers of the INC, who have judged and condemned Bro. Lowell with so much contempt, this is the part where you will have to burst your own bubble and eat your own words.
This is what Bro. Lowell has to say about the whole issue of kidnapping and the cover up of the INC Church Administration. Enjoy because this is JUST THE BEGINNING.
~ Antonio Ebangelista
“they tried to bury us… they didn’t know we were seeds”
My name is Lowell Robosa Menorca II. I swear before the Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ that I will speak the truth and nothing but the truth, believing that it is only by God’s grace and mercy that I and my family are still alive today despite the countless persecutions that have been thrown our way. It is my faith that in revealing the truth, I fulfill my humble part in God’s overall design to restore His Church back into a state that befits His glory, pristine and unblemished. What comes after this, only He knows because He and only He can bring about whatever change is required to get it there. In fulfilling my part, I pray, my God help and protect me and my whole family.
It is not that I have completely lost confidence in our Justice system. However, the reality is even that is not immune to the clutches of the rich, the powerful and the influential. There are instances also where debts of gratitude must be repaid, to people or institutions who put them to positions that now empower them to influence or decide on the outcome of a case.
I have a lot of respect for my lawyers who have tirelessly worked on my cases and sacrificed so much for me, my family and the truth which we are fighting for. I have so much respect for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Justices who have done their part to be impartial so that people like me who have been victimized for speaking the truth can have a little taste of justice. The problem I see with my petition for writ of amparo though was that its dragged on for so long from the many delaying tactics and attempt by the other side to block my appearance in court. The petition was filed on October 19, 2015. It is now March 2016. A petition for a writ of Amparo is defined as a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. I was probably naïve for expecting that justice will be achieved swiftly with these types of cases. Instead, 6 months later, we’re still not done. I do not blame my lawyers or the Justices. I feel they’ve done they’re job. It was the system that failed me. As the saying goes, “Justice delayed is justice denied”.
And because of this, with all due respect to all the people who have helped us seek justice in the proper forum, I have now decided to seek justice somewhere else and for that, I will now release to the public all evidences I have regarding the crimes that the INC Church Administration has done to me and my family and their aggressive efforts to cover it up and silence me for good.
If you can recall, in any of the court proceedings, not once did any of the Respondents appear in court to give respect to the Justices and the institution which they represent. If they wont respect the court, do you think they will respect the rights of a common person like me? So now, let me tell the public exactly why the Iglesia Ni Cristo Church Administration is desperately trying to silence me.
Going back to the Scene of the First Crime
The crime is kidnapping. The place is Butag, Bulan, Sorsogon. The date was July 16, 2015. I was the victim. INC was the offender. The leader of the kidnappers, I will disclose here, along with proof.
In order for everyone to understand and accept the bitter, unimaginable truth about the Iglesia Ni Cristo Church Administration’s dark side, it is necessary to show everyone where it all started, where they committed their first crime against me and my family, a day which will be forever etched in the dark history of the church, the day they kidnapped me and my family…
From the day I was rescued, I have maintained that I was kidnapped by INC << Video Link>>. I provided details about this kidnapping at a press con two days later <<Press Con>>. Now I will prove to you that what I had said happened actually happened, but not in my own words but from the Minister who led the kidnapping operation, none other than, Ka Benefrido C. Santiago. Let his own admission, baseless excuses and carefully woven lies tell the tale of their crimes.
There were several INC member and non-member witnesses to the kidnapping who were in the area at the time. There were local law enforcement officers and village officials, too, who would attest to the arrival of men in a convoy of several vehicles in the small town of Butag. They were able to witness how I was escorted out of the church compound in handcuffs with a jacket over my head after a worship service in my locale congregation in Butag. See http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/707550/go-figure-cops-escort-bicol-minister-who-ends-up-in-cavite-jail-for-carrying-grenade .
Despite overwhelming evidence against them, as expected, INC strongly denied knowledge of this kidnapping. But while publicly washing their hands of any wrongdoing, secretly, they had started to identify all the INC witnesses to that incident and intimidated each one to silence them. But the problem with this approach is that they can’t possibly silence all of the witnesses, especially non-member witnesses and investigative reporters who interviewed these witnesses on record when the scandal broke out. Rather than being caught lying in court, INC decided to admit to the kidnapping but injected lies in the details.
INC’s Admission of Kidnapping
Attached is the Judicial Affidavit signed by Ka Benefrido C. Santiago on November 5, 2015 which ACCRA filed with the Court of Appeals in behalf of it’s client, INC. Ka Benefrido is an INC minister, former General Secretary and member of the Sanggunian. This affidavit was filed as his direct testimony on the petition for writ of amparo which was filed against Ka Eduardo V. Manalo and key officials of INC by my brother Anthony and sister-in-law Jungko Otsuka.
On November 25, 2015, Benefrido signed a Supplementary Judicial Affidavit, also attached. This second document has no significant difference to the original except he changed the date he said he went to Sorsogon and included some hearsay testimony on what he had learned happened to me after he kidnapped me.
These are the facts Ka Benefrido testified in his affidavits which are consistent with what I have said all along:
- I was forcibly taken (in other words, kidnapped) from the compound of INC Lokal ng Butag in Bulan, Sorsogon on July 16, 2015 by a team led by Ka Benefrido C.
- The kidnapping operation was undertaken on orders by INC.
- I was kidnapped because I was suspected of being connected to the blogger, Antonio Ebangelista, who was critical of INC.
- Benefrido’s team was composed of police officers from the Quezon City Police Department and INC Ministers and INC Personnel.
- The specifics of the actual kidnapping were as I have shared with the media and the public before:
- Without warning, I was surrounded by uniformed officers and others in civilian clothing, with firearms, after I officiated worship service at my lokal in Butag.
- The men were from the Quezon City Police Dept.; Butag is in Sorsogon which is way out of their jurisdiction.
- These men who took me offered no explanation and they had no warrant of arrest.
- They handcuffed me behind my back.
- They put a jacket over my head and led me to a vehicle that was waiting outside.
- I was transported handcuffed the entire time as we travelled to our destination for several hours.
As the case on the petition for writ of Amparo progressed, the death threats and harassments against me and my family escalated. The INC Administration really know how to use the loopholes of the law to their advantage and as a tool for intimidation and harassment. Imagine, more than 40 libel complaints from INC members that I have never met before, whose names I have never mentioned in any statements I have made, libel cases filed in places mostly I have never set foot on, served court notices I never received which resulted in blazing-fast issuance of warrants of arrest and excessive bail amounts for such a simple libel case. All of these are designed to intimidate and harass me into silence while continuously denying that they have a hand in all of these.
This is why I have decided to share everything that I have, the evidences, the recording, the pictures, the documents, the affidavits and I will start with Ka Benefrido’s affidavits. I will reveal all of them now with the public while I am still alive to tell the truth. The general public is already aware of the true situation so I hope that this will serve as an eye opener to the INC members who still blindly think that the INC Church Administration is innocent in all of this and is incapable of doing such crimes against its members or even its Ministers and Church Workers.
I’ve attached an excerpt from my own Judicial Affidavit dated November 5, 2015 that describes in detail what transpired on the day of my kidnapping.
These are some of the discrepancies between Ka Benefrido’s affidavits and mine that are worth mentioning. In other words, these are some of the important facts he either omitted or lied about. The quotes are all from his affidavits. His testimony written is in Q&A format as required by the rules of court.
Let common sense be your guide in determining who’s telling the truth.
To those who do not know, CEM or College of Evangelical Ministry, is where one studies to become a minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo. Technically, it is under the New Era University (NEU). See http://www.neu.edu.ph/main/college-of-evangelical-ministry/. It is largely funded by “donations” from INC. In 2014, INC donated P4 Billion to NEU and P6 Billion in 2013. CEM and NEU are operated, managed and controlled by INC.
Isn’t it amazing that CEM is allegedly spearheading the investigation into Antonio Ebangelista? Why is CEM even interested in Antonio Ebangelista when by Ka Benefrido’s own words, this blogger’s writings are against INC and not CEM? In fact, the anomalies and corruption he’s exposed are committed by the Sanggunian and other ministers. When has Antonio Ebangelista ever written anything negative about CEM? The answer is never.
So why involve CEM at all? The answer is quite obvious. They desperately need to shield the person or persons who gave the order to kidnap me, from prosecution.
Although often assigned to perform extra-curricular functions in behalf of INC (among them kidnapping ministers, harassing INC defenders and collecting and receiving bribes from politicians), Ka Benefrido’s official title is “Instructor” at CEM. As instructor, he reports to the Director of CEM, Ka Emiliano “Jun” Magtuto Jr. But for his non-school related duties, Ka Benefrido receives directions straight from INC’s topmost hierarchy. (This is an open secret in the Church especially among ministers and workers.) It therefore begs the question, who is Ka Benefrido covering for? And who exactly is Ka Jun Magtuto serving as scapegoat for? Is this person so important that Ka Jun is willing to sacrifice himself for him, or her? Who in the INC hierarchy gave the order to kidnap me and my family? Was the order done and carried out without the knowledge and approval of Ka Eduardo V. Manalo? I have personally verified and confirmed that Ka Eduardo had full knowledge of everything when we personally talked and his response to me was “Subalit naiintindihan mo naman kung bakit kinailangan naming gawin sayo yun di ba?”, I was stunned and couldn’t believe what I heard from him directly. From which I directly answered him, “Hindi po. Sapagkat kung ipinatawag nyo lang po ako ay tyak na pupunta naman po ako, kahit nga po ipatext nyo lang po ako ay tyak na pupunta naman po ako para kausapin kayo o ang Sanggunian, hindi na po ninyo ako kinailangang ipakidnap ng hindi na po nalagay ang Iglesia sa kahihiyan dahil ang dami pong nakasaksi ng pagkidnap po sa amin dahil marami pong kapatid doon at fiesta po sa barangay” He did not answer anymore after that and changed the topic of the conversation.
His Judicial Affidavit were not even substantiated with supporting documents, affidavits or credible proofs to prove his claims, just free flowing lies and hearsays. He has now openly admitted that police officers were indeed part of the kidnapping team.
Is Quezon City so crime-free that it is able to lend the services of several police officers (including a high-ranking officer) to serve as private security guards of an INC minister dispatched to a remote area in the Bicol Region to kidnap another minister? The mayor of Quezon City, Mayor Herbert Bautista, has a lot of explaining to do to the tax-paying citizens in his city. Why is he using the resources of Quezon City to serve the private and internal needs of the Iglesia ni Cristo which has far vast resources than the entire city, including its own private security personnel comprised of highly trained and armed individuals? More importantly, is Mayor Herbert so beholden to INC that it is willing to ask his police force to commit a crime just to not lose the block vote support of his benefactor this coming election? But ofcourse, a complete and utter denial will be expected from the Mayor and likewise, all of those involved in this.
As for Butag being infested with rebels, why did INC not think to ask for local police escort if personal security was a concern? The fact is, there was no coordination whatsoever with the local law enforcement such as there would have been if this had been a legitimate police operation, which, of course, it wasn’t. No mission orders, no warrant of arrest, no coordination, no jurisdiction. Just pure flexing of the INC muscle declaring that it can do anything and get away with anything.
Incidentally, when I was assigned to Butag lokal last September 2014 by the Church Administration, I was not provided security escort on my way there. I was sent on my own accompanied only by my wife and a few brethren from the previous lokal where I was assigned. Was my personal safety, or the safety of another minister assigned to Butag before or after me, not a concern to the Administration? That seems unlikely. The more likely explanation is that this was another excuse to justify the use of a police squad for that operation.
Lastly, wouldn’t it have been a lot simpler if the Church Administration had just instructed me to go to the INC Central Office rather than for a team of about 3 dozen men (or more) to convoy all the way from Quezon City to Sorsogon and back? If I had been summoned by the Executive Minister, I would have willingly gone to Central with my family and we could have avoided all these. I didn’t have to be kidnapped and transported like a criminal and my family, separated from me. But then, INC would have lost the chance to display to the world their power and arrogance, their “I’m-above-the-law, I-can-do-whatever-I-want, who-would-dare-stop-me” attitude.
What’s interesting here is that after requesting the services of QCPD and leading the team for this mission, Ka Benefrido has made it appear as though once underway, the kidnapping operation was completely taken over by QCPD which made all the decisions with regard to how I was going to be kidnapped and transported. Basically, after reaching Sorsogon, everything was QCPD’s call. That does sound consistent with INC’s approach – when caught exposed, deny everything and blame the others, even though in this case, the party being blamed (QCPD) is on the same side as INC.
Please refer to my affidavit for an account of what actually happened when they captured and transported me. excerpt-KIDNAPPING-Lowell Menorca-Judicial Affidavit
The Q&A below are from the Supplemental Affidavit of Ka Benefrido.
These lies and the ones that follow below actually made me laugh in their absurdity. They really must think that the Court Justices are stupid to believe these lies. Here’s why:
- If it’s true that Ka Benefrido took me straight from Bulan to the Central Apartelle (which is a lie) and that we arrived around midnight of July 17, 2015, was I left with no guard whatsoever that I was just able to walk away and escape? Was the unit he supposedly put me in not padlocked? Did he not post guards or police officers outside the unit? It’s really hard to imagine that after so much effort to forcibly take me from Sorsogon and transport me for 15+ hours to the Central Apartelle, at least according to his story, he could have atleast ensured that I was properly secured and well guarded before allegedly leaving me there. That’s more than 30 hours round trip travel time for him and his team of kidnappers, such a sacrifice to just lose me in the end because of negligence.
- Did he remove my handcuffs after he supposedly delivered me to the Central Apartelle, even though he let the handcuffs remain the entire time I was transported because I was supposedly a danger to a team of armed policemen?
- To those not familiar with security at the Central Apartelle, there are security guards posted at the gate who take stock of all incoming and outgoing traffic into and out of the apartelle. Did these guards not see me leave? Did Ka Benefrido not even warn them about me when we supposedly arrived there so the security guards could be more alert?
After all the trouble they went through to kidnap me, it’s unthinkable that CEM Director Jun Magtuto who was supposedly the man who ordered it and who was so adamant at leading the investigation into who was behind Antonio Ebangelista, would not be alarmed when he was told I had escaped from Central.
After I had supposedly returned, even if Ka Benefrido’s claim were true (which I can assure you it’s not) that I had agreed to voluntarily disclose information about the people behind Antonio Ebangelista’s blog, wouldn’t CEM still want to lead my interrogation/volunteer confession? Why would CEM lose interest all of a sudden? After all, they were so aggressive in pursuing me because they thought I was connected with Antonio Ebangelista.
This is the lie that beats all the other lies in its illogicality. Why would I, whom INC has kidnapped and transported like a criminal for 15+ hours, whom INC has tried to kill and later, framed with possession of a grenade, because of which I was made to spend 9 days at the Dasmarinas City jail only for the case to be dismissed because I was too accessible to the media, whose family INC has taken and whose whereabouts it wouldn’t tell him, and who, at least according to Ka Benefrido, has escaped from the Central Apartelle, which we can only be out of fear for my life, suddenly turn around and run back into the arms of INC? Who in the right mind would do that and who would believe such lie?!
All these questions come to mind to anyone who would be reading Ka Benefrido’s affidavit and it is very insulting to the intellect and commonsense of any reader that they had the audacity to submit this to the Court of Appeals thinking that they can just use their well-paid ACCRA lawyers to drag this on and submit a hundred more objections just to get away with it. I am raising this issue because there is a grave threat against the very fabric of democracy and freedom, not only in our country but anywhere else where there are INC fanatical members who will do anything for the church and the beloved Executive Minister and they won’t have second thoughts breaking the law or killing anyone because they believe it is for a holy cause. The public also has the right to know the truth and just like me, it could be their parents, their siblings, their children, their loved ones and friends, who could be the next victims because for the church administration, nobody is indispensable and they will stop at nothing just to cover up their crimes and continue with their facade of holiness and false humility.
Imagine a very influential religious organization who exclaims separation of church and state, yet uses its clout to appoint people in government positions, lobby for government favors, access to law enforcement resources for their internal activities, even illegal activities. This is a national concern and the legislators and justices should investigate this because it has far reaching implications for the general public. The INC is now out of control and they claim immunity from the law by constantly ignoring the arm of justice bound by influential favors willed by the powers of the INC church administration. The people need to know if the government, the justice system, the politicians, the law enforcement can still be trusted or are they already compromised by the INC. My plight is the same plight as the common Filipino who is endangered of persecution by the INC once there is no more power of the land to stop them. That is why the truth needs to come out now, not to destroy the institution of the church but to expose and eradicate the corruption and anomalies plaguing the church in order to restore it to its previous pristine and respectable state. The INC members need to know the truth rather than just blindly believing everything that is being fed to them without discerning the truth from the lies. This is just the start. I will continue to expose the truth and provide the evidences to support my statements regarding what the INC Church Administration has done to me and my family in the hope that those who perpetrated the crimes be held liable and accountable for their crimes against the church, against me and my family and all of those whose rights have been violated but were forced to be silenced.
Unfortunately for the corrupt INC Church Administration, I am SILENTNOMORE and this is just THE BEGINNING.
~ Lowell Robosa Menorca II