Habeas corpus petition for ex-INC church worker's house help junked

MANILA, Philippines – A Quezon City (QC) court on Wednesday, June 8, junked the petition for habeas corpus filed by the parents of Abegail Yanson, the house help of former Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) evangelical worker Lowell Menorca II.

The QC Regional Trial Court Branch 78 issued its resolution dismissing the petition filed by Yanson's parents, which sought to compel the Menorcas to produce their daughter, whom they claim was being held against her will.

Yanson's lawyer, Trixie Cruz-Angeles, said Abegail's appearance in court was proof that she was not detained or under duress.

"A writ of habeas corpus is to produce the body. Usually it's because that person is held under duress or against her will or under an illegal arrest. In this case there's clearly no arrest, no detention, and the fact that the judge was able to speak with her indicates that she has her own free will," Angeles said.

She added that during the hours-long court proceedings, Yanson was able to speak with her family, who wanted her to come home. Angeles added that Yanson was also in touch with her family by phone.

"We gave her parents a chance to talk to her, we also asked the court to talk to her parents and her separately...They're asking her to come home and she refused," Angeles said.

Yanson's parents, Candido and Rosalie Yanson, filed a serious illegal detention complaint against the Menorcas in November last year, accusing them of prohibiting Yanson from seeing her family since she was brought to Manila from Bulan, Sorsogon, in July 2015.

Yanson was with the Menorcas when they were rescued late October last year after months of supposedly being detained at the INC compound in Quezon City, allegedly upon orders of top church officials.

Menorca was allegedly detained to force him to expose members critical of the church.

In a video message in November 2015, however, Abegail denied that she was being held against her will. She said that the INC's top leaders had forced her parents to lie and to file the complaint.

Last March, Menorca fled the country with his family following a series of arrest warrants against him and a death threat against his daughter. They claim these were part of ongoing harassment by the INC leadership.

The INC, however, branded Menorca a fugitive from justice. But the ex-church worker said he plans to seek justice elsewhere. – Rappler.com