***Disclaimer: Only people with an open mind and common sense will be able to absorb and comprehend the following article. For those with heightened biases, stemming from systemic fanaticism will automatically switch into their vindictive nature as a defense mechanism against rationality. Proceed with an open mind.***
Often people ask, what has become of the once-noble and respected Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) ever since it came under the helm of Eduardo V. Manalo? A string of scandals, abductions, anomalies, corruptions, human rights abuses, and extra-judicial killings, have since plagued the once untarnished reputation of the INC. This 105-year-old global church has reached the pinnacle of its glorious and pristine stature during the time of the late Executive Minister, Eraño G. Manalo. But since his demise, the silent take-over of his son, Eduardo V. Manalo served as the catalyst for its paradoxical rise to power and notoriety. Eduardo V. Manalo’s obsession to overshadow the legacy of his own father pushed him to degenerate into a two-faced figure seen only by people looking from the outside-in but oblivious to the people looking from within.
So how did Eduardo V. Manalo become the modern-day Janus, presiding over all beginnings and transitions, whether abstract or concrete, sacred or profane? Just follow the history of EVM and you will truly see him for what he has truly become.
One only needs to closely follow EVM ’s iconic religious leadership to immediately grasp his thirst for vanity, matched only by the depths of his insecurities, his greed for power, money, affluent lifestyle, influence and most of all, worldly recognition. These, collectively transformed him into the human manifestation of the 7 abominations to the Lord as depicted in Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV)
“These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.”
But, ofcourse, to EVM’s loyal followers, nothing can be farther than the truth, because, for them, he is the “physical presence of God” and can do no wrong.
To be able to understand how the Iglesia Ni Cristo was able to amass so much power and influence, especially in the Philippines, we need to go back in time on how it all started. How can a homegrown religion from a third-world country which started out as an absolute minority, persecuted and ridiculed way back in 1913, become the religious superpower that it is today? Simple. Through the divine providence of our Almighty God as prophesied in Isaiah 46:11 (NKJV).
Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
Indeed I have spoken it;
I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it;
I will also do it.
And as we have learned from our Bible Studies, the east that was mentioned in the prophecy was qualified as the far east and manifested by the country, the Philippines as proven by historians and Bible scholars. The fulfillment was in the being of Bro. Felix Y. Manalo. His works for the re-establishment of the Church of Christ in these last days were beset with so many persecutions, obstacles, and hardships, but because of God’s guidance and help, Bro. Felix Y. Manalo successfully continued God’s works of salvation until his last breath.
His son, Bro. Eraño G. Manalo carried on the torch of leadership and was able to expand the church into new frontiers and new evangelical milestones. During these prosperous years under the dynamic stewardship of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo, the church enjoyed the respect and admiration, not only by the general public, the Philippines government officials, other religious leaders, but also by other nations.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo has, and always will have a singular and centralized form of governing body (something that EVM’s Administration now denies in order to wiggle their way out of lawsuits such as in the case of Chris Brown Vs. Iglesia Ni Cristo under the church administration of the Executive Minister. But, just like the time of the apostles wherein the administration of the church was in Jerusalem, the INC today is headquartered in the Philippines. This was legally stated by the church in an official document filed in court:
The Church Administration of the Executive Minister controls and decides over everything in the church as part of the doctrines being upheld in the church. So, no matter what nationality you belong to, no matter what country you are in, every church member, every locale congregation, every ecclesiastical district all over the world is governed by one administration, under one man, Eduardo V. Manalo.
But one might argue that many religions all over the world may also have the same historical progression, yet why has this minority religion such as the INC become a political superpower in the Philippines? The straightforward answer is because of the INC’s bloc voting “doctrine” based on 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NKJV) that calls for perfect unity…
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Connect the definition of a “vote” as an expression of “judgment”, then combine this stern biblical verse as a doctrine for salvation emphasized systematically by a 100plus-year-old Church, and you’ve got yourself a kingmaker.
But don’t get me wrong, having a political strong arm for a minority religion in a third-world country was not all bad. The Church Administration of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo, with his Church Council Ministers, were able to manage the affairs of the church and its members for the greater good. The “administration” bureaucracy was not exempted from flaws or abuses, but because of the hands-on approach of Bro. Erdy and the strict “check and balance” protocols he has put into place, corruption was nipped in the bud and the culprits thwarted thereby preserving the sanctity of the church. These were the days of the “old sentinels”, the true principled Ministers who faithfully safeguarded the pristine integrity of the Church Administration… up until the passing of the last true Steward of the Church.
And in his passing, the church, the church administration, and all its properties, wealth, influence and power were taken control by one man… the usurper, Eduardo V. Manalo. And he of course did not usurp his position by himself. His wife, Baby Lyn, first and foremost has the greatest influence on him, powered and supported by Glicerio “Jun” “Kidlat” Santos Jr., who has full control of the church coffers and makes the Iglesia ni Cristo world go round and round and round. Then, there’s the Church Council or “Sanggunian” who were slowly but surely bought to remain in power and in their luxurious lifestyles for as long as they are One with EVM!
The once principled Council Ministers became mongrels, taking the shape and spirit of its new “master”. They became professional “YES MEN” just to secure their administration posts and the lucrative benefits that came with it. Ministers on one-side, bribe-driven power brokers on the other.
This ushered in the dawn of a new era of EVM-centric faith. Eduardo V. Manalo, for the members, became the new Christ, thus, they have to be One-With-EVM to be saved. They have to Make-EVM-Smile as a matter of faith. Ultimately, they must Obey-And-Never-Complain.
Now, we can clearly see the strategic rise to political power of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in the Philippines. An aspiring or incumbent politician wants to secure his political career, they almost assuredly cannot win without the endorsement of the INC. And with political endorsement comes political favors. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. This political apparatus was perfected by Eduardo V. Manalo and his band of council ministers.
With its already growing network of politicians, law enforcement officials, justice officials, tycoons, and power brokers, Eduardo V. Manalo was not yet satisfied. He wanted more. He wanted to be in politics too so he tested the waters when he cashed in one of the political favors from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who owed his presidency to EVM.
But that’s not all… when Eduardo V. Manalo accepted a government post that was unprecedented in the history of the Church Administration, it ushered in a new era of church members entering into politics, something that used to be grounds for expulsion is now grounds for promotion. Take, for example, Congressman Rodante D. Marcoleta:
It used to be that any member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, who did not follow the endorsement of the Church Administration during elections, would have been punished by expulsion along with anyone who would serve as a campaigner for politicians or who would defy the doctrines and enter politics altogether. NOT ANYMORE.
Eduardo V. Manalo saw the value of INC members entering into politics and other government and private positions. This would mean more leverage for his vested interests. Since Eduardo V. Manalo does not want his hands tainted in dirty politics, he will let others do the dirty job for him. These political puppets will do everything to make their master happy to further their political career and will take every opportunity to prove their worth and willingness to his bidding.
Marcoleta did not waste any time to use his government post to serve the interest of his true master and benefactor.
Marcoleta, along with other political aspirants endorsed this resolution with sheer disregard to its diplomatic repercussions just for the vested interest of people with an illusion of privilege. For somebody who is not privy to the information, nor was involved in the series of events during the Menorca kidnapping and illegal detention perpetrated by the EVM Administration, it is clear as daylight that Marcoleta did not pen this resolution. Yet, he allowed his official government post to be used as a lobbying instrument for Eduardo V. Manalo. Congressman Rodante Marcoleta’s political accomplishments may not be as impressive even for a 3rd rate Congressman, but he served the purpose as to why he was put there in the first place. Marcoleta claims to seek justice for a person he vilifies as a fugitive yet was quick to turn a blind eye when an actual fugitive was harbored and protected by the Iglesia Ni Cristo church Administration. Remember Bro. Ja Hoon Ku?
Therefore, justice is not propelled by what you know, rather, it is based on WHO YOU KNOW. In Ja Hoon Ku’s case, he knew exactly who to align himself with to protect his interests.
And to further the stronghold of Eduardo V. Manalo over his domain, he not only employ the services and favors of his members in politics, in government agencies, in the private sectors, in banking, in law enforcement, even in the justice system. One example of people being repaid well for their submission to EVM, is a man named Vimar Barcellano. If there were people we can say who rose from rags to riches, well this man has his career being tailored for him as he set his eyes for the Chief Justice post. But in order for him to get there, he must sign his soul to the devil first. And indeed he has.
Atty. Vimar Barcellano has been the attack dog for the EVM Administration for many years, handling covert operations to purge vocal critics against the church administration of Eduardo V. Manalo. And now, he has been as the new City Prosecutor of Quezon City to completely solidify INC’s bailiwick in the Philippines. He is now the principal Inquisitor for the church, using his position and influence as the strong arm of persecution and oppression.
And because of people like these who allow themselves to be living sacrifices as proof of their loyalty to Eduardo V. Manalo’s self-acclaimed benevolence, the very thin line between the religious institution of the Iglesia Ni Cristo and the already corruptible Philippine politics is already gone. Unless the people start to collectively stand against megalomaniac bullies like Eduardo V. Manalo and his fanatic followers, things will only get worse.
Take for example the case of Bro. Angel V. Manalo. It has been more than two years and those that were arrested with him on trumped up charges have been bailed out only to be re-arrested because the INC was easily able to turn a bailable charge into a non-bailable charge and they are able to issue warrants of arrests just like that! Thanks to Atty. Vimar Barcellano you signed off on this new wave of inquisition, the members of the family of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo and those who supported them in their stand at #36 Tandang Sora are now being hunted again. Two have already fallen victims to their snares, the former helper and gardener of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo, Sis. Miriam and Bro. Jojo Moreno, abducted and thrown in jail and re-charged with a non-bailable offense to keep them in jail as “form” of punishment for going against EVM.
In light of these revelations, it is easy for us to lose heart and all hope knowing full well that we are facing a high and powerful evil, but instead of letting fear overcome us, let us remember that there are still people who firmly stand on the truth with full hope and conviction that God will not fall back on his promise to help and guide those who fight on His side of righteousness. Remember that Bro. Angel Manalo is still in prison, refusing to have any fellowship with the evil works of darkness that his brother, Eduardo V. Manalo, allowed himself to be consumed by greed for money and lust for power. Let us draw our strength and inspiration in godly people like Bro. Angel, who, in the face of immense suffering and adversities, never uttered a single word or act of hatred towards Eduardo V. Manalo and everyone else who have subjected them into so much pain and oppression.
And for as long as there will be those, no matter how few we are, who will selflessly and courageously fight this system of corruption and oppression, there will always be hope for justice and for the truth to prevail. May God continue to help us all so we may continue to help others.
Learn to do good.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.
~ Isaiah 1:17 New Living Translation
~ Antonio Ramirez Ebangelista
“They tried to bury us…they didn’t know we were seeds.”
“Unlike you, I don’t have power or money, but what I do have is a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you tell the truth now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will expose you.” – A.E.
Philippine Daily Inquirer Article: “Antonio Ebangelista writes Philippine Daily Inquirer, Warns Iglesia Elders”
Question adn Answer: Q & A with Antonio Ebangelista
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