This month of March marks the 2nd anniversary of the 36 Tandang Sora arrest of Brother Felix Nathaniel Manalo, or “Ka Angel” as he is commonly called. Permit me to review what took place 2 years ago.
In 2015, the Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ), “Brother” Eduardo V. Manalo – excommunicated his family members, namely, his widowed mother, Sis. Tenny Manalo, his oldest, widowed sister Sis. Lottie Hemedez and his two brothers Bro. Mark Manalo and Bro. Angel Manalo. There were some friends and companions who were with them at the time as well. All were expelled from the church along with their family members, relatives, helpers, friends, and children included.
What was the reason for their expulsions? They allegedly were /are causing a division within the Church.
Sis. Tenny and Bro. Mark were not even in the Philippines at the time – but they were blamed anyway. Bro. Angel, Sis. Lottie and their family members were in the Philippines then, specifically, in 36 Tandang Sora, Quezon City, the now infamous address.
Because they were “expelled” from the church by their brother, they were told to leave the premises. There was a disagreement of who actually owned the property. Sis. Lottie showed documents proving ownership but that was dismissed as “fake“ and the Church claimed ownership. Nevertheless, the siblings stood their ground. So to try and drive them out, the Church leader stopped all food and water from coming in the compound and cut off the electricity and water as well. What a loving brother.
In March 2017 things escalated to the point that the Church Administration called in the dozens of police officers and in the turmoil, shots were fired, 2 policemen were injured. All members of the 36 Tandang Sora occupants were arrested. Through all this, the media were not allowed in the compound, with the exception of course, EAGLE NEWS, which the Church owned news station. Who else?
Here is where it gets interesting, most of them were released with the exception of Brother Angel, his nephew Bro. Jem Hemedez and Jonathan Ledesma. The charge? INDISCRIMINATE FIRING. Meaning shots were fired in random directions, not necessarily at the police. Later on, the one charged with shooting at the police was Jonathan Ledesma – NOT Angel Manalo or Jem Hemedez.
One week later, THOUSANDS of ammos and guns were amazingly found by the amazing Philippine police. Excellent detective work officers! Imagine that, one week after the incident, they found MORE GUNS. Truly amazing isn’t it?
Let’s dwell on this for a moment. Picture the scene… Arrests were made. They take them into custody. Other officers look around the “scene of the crime”. They look for evidence. They find guns. They confiscate them. Now, do they look around some more? Did they take their afternoon tea break or “merienda” as it is called there? Did they go back after the break? Did the police look around in the evening? Or did they clock out and say, oh well, shift is over? Did they come back the next day to continue their evidence search? Why did it take one whole week to find a whole extra cache of guns? It was NOT in some “secret” cellar or the bat cave. It was SUPPOSEDLY behind some “secret” door which, from the picture, LOOKED LIKE A DOOR! Amazing!! What is more amazing? The door was made of GLASS!! And if you will read that article above, it says “ANOTHER SEARCH CONDUCTED”. How often does the police do a raid, search the premises, then days later, do ANOTHER search? What was the reason they decided to do “another search?”
So now, the charge becomes ILLEGAL POSSESSION of MULTIPLE UNREGISTERED FIREARMS. – charged to Brother Angel Manalo!
On November 2017, the “court” if they may be called that, decided to deny bail to Bro. Angel because, out of all those guns found, there was 1 shotgun that was “loaded”.
It is now March 2019. In the 2 years that has passed, what has happened? Let’s see…
- The original lawyer for the Manalo siblings, Trixie Cruz-Angeles has been removed from the case and disbarred. Amazing isn’t it?
- Anyone who spoke up and tried to support Bro. Angel and the siblings were expelled.
- Sis. Tenny and Bro. Mark are now in hiding.
- The Executive Minister of the Church was given diplomatic status and is now the SPECIAL ENVOY to Filipino Overseas Workers appointed by the Philippine President Duterte himself.
- Bro. Angel and the other two companions? They were moved from one precinct to another one. Court case? Non-existent. TWO YEARS. No Jury member has been selected. No court hearings. No sentencing. In other words, they have languished in prison WITHOUT A TRIAL for 2 long years. Amazing? Without a doubt.
Is the Philippine Justice system to blame for slowness? Try sniffing the air. Can you smell the CORRUPTION? Can you smell the old “compadre“ system in place – where it’s -you scratch my back and I scratch yours-style? Can you smell the connections and the influence of the church over the police, the courts and the president? Can you smell the cash passing around? Can you smell government positions being filled?
I believe there was a hearing that was scheduled in 2018 but that was scrapped and moved again. So who knows? Maybe 2019? I would not hold my breath.
From a legal standpoint, let’s quickly analyse this case:
Bro. Angel was not charged of shooting at the police. He was not charged of injuring a police officer. He was charged of possession of illegal firearms. Hundreds of them. Obviously he was NOT LITERALLY carrying hundreds of them. He was charged because they said it was on his property.
The article of John K. Magaling even quoted the prosecutor of the case, Veronica Pagayatan, on October 2017:
Now IF what the Church Leaders are saying that 36 Tandang Sora compound belongs to the Church, then why is Bro. Angel charged then and why not the so called “OWNERS”? Shouldn’t it be then that the Executive Minister be charged? I mean, after all, HIS yard right?
It’s funny how the court system can drag its feet when it wants to. 2 years have passed and Brother Angel and company are still in jail for PROBABLE CAUSE. Talk about perverted justice system. The perverted Council of Elders fit right in.
How much longer?
Let’s all hope and pray that justice will eventually prevail. God HATES injustice. Heads of states, men in power, corrupt leaders – all of them will do their most evil, but when God takes action, all of them will tremble.
“‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”
A follow up from the article: “Justice delayed is justice denied”: The case of Felix Nathaniel Manalo