Expelled members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) on Monday trooped to Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City to listen to President Rodrigo Duterte's first State of the Nation Address and to seek assistance to resolve the rift among the members of the Manalo family.
Ex-INC member Felix Villocino (second from right) and other members of the INC Defenders are asking President Rodrigo Duterte for assistance. PHOTO BY JESSICA BARTOLOME
"Nandito kami para manawagan sa presidente, 'yung oppression na nagaganap sa pamilya ng administrator, si Ka Erdy Manalo," said Felix Villocino.
Villocino was expelled after siding with expelled Manalo sibling, Felix Nathaniel "Angel" Manalo.
The family feud was revealed during the Iglesia ni Cristo's 101st anniversary last year, stirring up the biggest controversy that the church has been involved in.
INC authorities had ordered the Manalos to vacate their home along Tandang Sora, but they claimed ownership of the property and refused to leave.
The war of will led the family to be trapped inside the house, which Villocino said is now surrounded by armed guards and metal sheets.
"Masasabi namin na oppression ang nagaganap sa kanyang pamilya na nasa no. 36 Tandang Sora," Villocino said.
"At present, 'yung pamilya ngayon, si Ka Angel Manalo at Ka Lottie Manalo, ay kasalukuyang nasa loob ng compound... Wala silang kuryente, wala silang tubig," he added.
He said he and his fellow "INC Defenders" have been visiting the compound to give the family food and drinks.
The group also recently sent a letter to Malacañang, seeking help in keeping the Manalo family alive.
"Ang concern namin hindi sa legal matters. Ang concern namin dito ay maisuplay ang kanilang basic needs: pagkain, tubig, kung ano pa ang kailangan para mabuhay pa sila," Villocino said.
Villocino also cried foul over their explusion, saying that it was executed without following "due process."
"Doon ako ipinanganak. Ngayon lang ako nakatikim na in-expel ako without due process," he said.
However, he said they are not protesting that issue, since their priority is the Manalo family.
Hailing from Davao City, Villocino hopes that Duterte would address the oppression since it is a violation of human rights.
"Malakas 'yung loob namin dahil alam naming si Duterte ay concerned sa mga ganyang bagay, kapag buhay na," he said.
Asked for comment, INC spokesperson Edwin Zabala on Tuesday reiterated there was a court case and the church followed the procedures.
"These recent antics by the supporters of Mr. Angel Manalo and Mrs. Lottie Hemedez do not change the fact that the INC filed a case and followed the procedures laid down by law," he said.
"The Court has resolved in favor of the Church ordering the occupants of 36 Tandang Sora to immediately vacate the premises they unlawfully detained," he added.
However, Zabala said Angel Manalo and his sister Lottie "continue to violate the civil and political right to security of those who work at the INC Central Office, as well as the Church's exclusive economic right to the use and enjoyment of our property."
He appealed to Angel's party to "end their antics."
"We call on these people who are illegally detaining Church premises to end their antics," he said.
— BAP/KG, GMA News