Manalo brother hits Iglesia ni Cristo 'corruption'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After a day of avoiding media, Angel Manalo faced reporters past midnight Friday, July 24, with allegations of corruption within the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) group headed by his elder brother Eduardo.

Angel had holed up inside the INC compound in Quezon City, but opened a small window on the compound's gate to issue a statement.

Angel denied he was openly challenging his brother's leadership.

But he also pointed out that there had been "no anomalies" under the group's first two leaders, Felix Manalo and Eraño Manalo.

"Bakit sa panahon ngayon, napakarami nang anomalya? Baka sabihin ng iba, eh kinakalaban namin ang aming kapatid. Hindi po, mahal po namin ang aming kapatid. Kaya lang ang nagiging problema natin, ang mga nasa paligid niya," Angel said.

(Why is it that these days, there are many anomalies? Others might say we're challenging our brother. No, we love our brother. But our problem is with people around him.)

He added: "Nasira na ang doktrina ng Iglesia ni Cristo. Kung papaano ninyo hinangaan noon, nakita ninyo, napakarami nang anomalya. Napakarami nang tiwali na ginagawa sa Iglesia. Iyon po ang ayaw namin." 

(The doctrine of the Iglesia ni Cristo is now damaged. In the same way that you looked up to us before, now you can see there are many anomalies. There are many acts of corruption in the Church. That's what we want to avoid.) 

'Don't listen to the corrupt'

Angel then appealed to his brother not to listen to corrupt officials within the Sanggunian (Council), whom he alleged were behind questionable deals backed by the INC.

"Ang aming pakiusap, 'wag siyang maniniwala sa Sanggunian na kanyang pinagkakatiwalaan, sapagkat nauubos na ang abuloy ng Iglesia sa mga proyekto na hindi naman kailangan," he said.

(Our request is, he should not believe in the Sanggunian that he is trusting, because donations to the Iglesia are wasted on unnecessary projects.)

Pressed to cite an example, Manalo said he "couldn't understand" why the INC decided to build the Philippine Arena when it could have used its funds to build more churches instead.

Angel's statement comes after the police visited the INC's compound in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, to check allegations of abduction.

Police on Friday morning ruled out any case of abduction there.

Manalo himself denied that he was being held captive. Asked about the appeal for help that reporters saw from the window of the INC building, Manalo said that the sign was flashed by a child who was only playing a joke.

Tension rose in Tandang Sora on Thursday, July 23, after Angel appealed for help on Youtube and supporters trooped to the INC compound.

Angel and his mother, Tenny, said in a Youtube video that their lives "are in danger."

They also appealed for prayers for the safety of several ministers who were allegedly abducted, supposedly on the orders of INC leadership. (READ: Was Iglesia ni Cristo minister abducted? Lawyer denies)

Speaking to reporters after Angel Manalo faced the media, INC spokesperson Edwil Zabala again dismissed allegations of corruption and cast doubt on the truthfulness of Manalo's claims.

"Kung ang hostage-taking, biglang nabago ang tono...ano pa kaya sa mga sinasabi nila ang mapapatunayan nating gawa-gawa nila?" he said. (If they suddenly changed tune on the supposed hostage-taking, what other allegations would turn out to be fabricated?) – Rappler.com