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Ex-Iglesia ni Cristo minister recalls alleged abduction, detention

(Updated 4:00 p.m.) A former Iglesia ni Cristo minister, who was allegedly abducted and detained inside the religious sect's central compound for three months, faced the media on Sunday for the first time since he was “rescued” last week and detailed what he described as the “most hurting” experience of his life.
In a press conference, an emotional Lowell Menorca said he promised Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo that he and his family were willing to go away for the church's sake as long as they are left alone by those responsible for their supposed abduction.
“[I made the request] not to bother us, especially those people who have hurt us, who were responsible for my kidnapping [and that] of my wife and child. I fear for my safety, my family's safety. I requested for them to stay away, not to bother us anymore so that we may be left alone. That was my only request to Ka Eduardo,” he said.
Menorca said he began fearing for his family's safety when he was supposedly kidnapped in Sorsogon last July.
“That was the most hurting part of my life because I was separated from my wife and daughter,” he said.
From Sorsogon, Menorca said he was brought by car to Dasmariñas, Cavite in handcuffs by men whom he identified to be police officers.
“I was handcuffed. I asked them repeatedly to loosen the handcuffs because my shoulders were about to fall off, my hands were bleeding. I kept on begging the police officers to remove the handcuffs. I'm not gonna fight them. They were all with guns, I was all alone. They had guns to me,” he said.
Inside the vehicle, Menorca said he appealed to his alleged captors to leave his family alone even at the expense of his own life.
“They can shoot me if they want. They can kill me if they want. Just leave my wife and my daughter alone. I asked where they were. They couldn't give me anything, only trying to pacify me with the words saying that 'Okay lang sila,'” he said.
Menorca had been detained at the Dasmariñas Police Station for allegedly threatening commuters with a hand grenade.
Menorca denied owning the explosive.
He was released on July 25 after the complainants who filed the case against him signed affidavits of desistance.
A week after his release from jail, Menorca surfaced with his family and denied that they were abducted and held against their will.
But in a video released last week, Menorca recanted his earlier statement and said that he was detained at the Iglesia ni Cristo's central compound and interrogated about his knowledge of the controversial blog written by a certain Antonio Ebangelista, which details the supposed wrongdoing committed by some church leaders.
He claimed that he and his family were taken to the Iglesia ni Cristo central compound following the dropping of charges against him. 
"Nais ko pong ipaalam sa inyo mga kapatid na simula noong July 25 hanggang October 21, kami po ay illegally detained sa central compound ng Iglesia Ni Cristo. Hindi po namin kailanman hiniling sa pamamahala na bigyan kami ng pabahay doon," the former church minister said in the video.
The former minister said in the press conference that he was forced to deny his alleged abduction because of pressure from top Iglesia ni Cristo officials.
A report by Julius Segovia aired on “Balitanghali” quoted Menorca as saying that members of the Sanggunian became “alarmed” when his younger brother Anthony, and his wife's twin sister filed petitions for habeas corpus and amparo before the Supreme Court last October 21.
A writ of amparo is 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.
A habeas corpus plea, meanwhile, is a legal action that gives a person the right to seek relief from unlawful detention. It serves as an instrument for safeguarding individual freedoms.
Two days later, the SC ordered Iglesia ni Cristo executive minister Eduardo Manalo to appear before the Court of Appeals, and to bring with him Menorca and his family.
Following the SC's order, Menorca said he and his family were taken from the Iglesia ni Cristo's central compound to a house in Fairview.
He claimed that when they were transferred to the new place, he saw an opportunity to call his sister in law and Atty. Trixie Cruz-Angeles, his counsel, for help.
Angeles announced in Facebook post last Friday the supposed rescue of the Menorcas.
In a statement sent to GMA News, lawyer Patricia-Ann Prodigalidad of the ACCRA law office said officials of the Iglesia ni Cristo were surprised and saddened by the statements issued by Menorca.

"They will address the allegations of Mr. Menorca in the proper venue, and are confident that if treated fairly by authorities, they will be given due process and the opportunity to establish their innocence and to clear their names," Prodigalidad said.
'They violated our pricacy'
Aside from violating their human rights, Menorca accused members of the Sanggunian of violating their privacy when they stole his and his family's gadgets.
"They stole our gadgets. Thy returned some of them, but not all of them. Digital forensic was done. They violated our privacy,” Segovia tweeted the former church minister as saying.
He maintained that his decision to speak out regarding their alleged abduction is not a way of waging a fight against the church.
“This is not a fight against the church. This is not a fight against Ka Eduardo. Personally, this is the fight against those who do wrongdoing,” he said.
Menorca challenged members of the Sanggunian, who he believes to be responsible for his ordeal, to defend themselves in court.
“[If you say you'll] gladly give your life to the Executive Minister, then prove it. This time, prove it. Go to the courts. Prove your innocence, because just remember this: I will not go the court without proof. I will not be talking to you like this if it really didn't happen. I wouldn't be saying all of this if it is not the truth,” he said. —Xianne Arcangel/ALG, GMA News