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Speculative, unverified reports on yet unanswered complaints

12:57 AM December 18, 2015

THE INQUIRER’S Dec. 1 editorial, titled “Evasion, obfuscation,” is lamentable. The Iglesia ni Cristo members who regularly patronize the paper have every reason to rue and complain. We feel betrayed. In reporting on complaints by individuals expelled from our Church, the Inquirer has sadly resorted to sensationalism and speculative journalism.

What is it in Vincent Florida’s story that merited headline treatment (“INC leaders face US raps,” Front Page, 11/29/15)? Of course, it boosts sales. But at the expense of the Inquirer’s credibility and the truth that it should uphold.

Florida has an axe to grind having been expelled. Yet the Inquirer accorded his report the credence it does not deserve. What is so questionable in converting the members’ offerings (which are in various smaller denominations) into $100 bills, or P1,000 bills? This has been a long-time practice, a way of making handy the delivery of collected offerings to their destination. Of course, it is easy to inject malice to this system when a former minister adds that the collections are “spirited” aboard a private plane bound for the Cayman Islands.

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But Florida himself said the report had not been verified. And the editorial mentioned that the Internal Revenue Service “has not yet announced an inquiry into the tax fraud complaint.” So what’s the basis of the report and editorial?

The Inquirer lumps this Florida fiction to “serious allegations of illegal detention and grave coercion” by other expelled INC members. Such allegations can be serious only in the minds of those guilty of sowing dissension in our Church. They have selfish motives and they found the social media an effective means to advance their evil design; the social media can be manipulated to create the impression that the “rebels” in our Church are growing in number. But why would the Inquirer ride on the wave of its crass sensationalism? There can’t be anything “serious” in complaints that, even before the respondents could answer, are motu proprio being dismissed. Read closely the Department of Justice resolutions in the Samson and Fruto cases, and see how frivolous the complaints are.

Then, too, just because the Menorca petition for habeas corpus and writ of amparo got the Supreme Court’s attention, at once the Inquirer formed an opinion of it which is adverse to the INC. The Inquirer should get its legal experts to examine the full records of the case first, and not rely on interviews Lowell Menorca and his lawyers field every so often.

Indeed, for the sake of truth and fairness, on Florida’s amorphous accusation, please look around. Other than the INC, is there any entity here which undertakes massive procurement of properties and building of churches and related edifices which are funded with members’ offerings?

Think, then, where is the logic in the allegation that our Church funds are being stashed away in secret bank accounts in the Bahamas and Switzerland?

—MOISES S. TOLENTINO JR., atty_ mostoj@yahoo.com

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