|Eduardo V. Manalo registering the all-Filipino church Iglesia ni Cristo® (Church of Christ) in Rome, Italy in 1997|
Iglesia counsel hits back at Angel Manalo lawyers
A COUNSEL of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) has turned the tables on the lawyers of expelled member Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo, blaming them for the recent death of Manalo’s driver.
Wilfredo Santos, who also represents the INC in another case against the expelled siblings of INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo, sued Trixie Cruz Angeles and Ahmed Paglinawan for criminal negligence over the death of Benjamin Arellano Jr.
Before his death, the driver was staying with Angel at No. 36 Tandang Sora, Quezon City, where Angel and sister Lottie Hemedez had been holed up since July, when the religious group’s leadership crisis became public. The INC has a pending petition in court seeking to bar unauthorized persons from entering the property.
In a complaint filed in the city prosecutor’s office on Tuesday, Santos said Angeles and Paglinawan apparently knew as early as Oct. 17 about Arellano’s condition but did not report it to the court or other authorities.
The complaint noted that the respondents went to the compound on Oct. 17 together with two doctors, but were prevented from entering as Santos told them to first seek permission from the INC or the court.
Santos recalled: “Considering the lack of prior notice to the INC as owner of the property, the very unusual time of their visit, and the failure of the alleged doctors to present their PRC (Professional Regulation Commission) ID to prove their medical qualification, I told attorney Trixie and company that they could not enter the INC property at that time.’’
On Nov. 9, an unconscious Arellano was brought out of the compound and was later pronounced dead.
“In a span of three weeks, no attempt was made to bring Arellano to the hospital for checkup and appropriate medical treatment,” Santos said in the complaint.
“No occupant of the INC property has ever been prevented or barred from going out,” he said. “(They) did not call an ambulance when he was taken out and did not bring him to the nearest hospital.”
In an interview, Santos said he had not spoken with Arellano’s family members, who were also tightlipped about his death when approached by the Inquirer during his burial.
Angeles earlier blamed the INC leadership for denying medical attention to Arellano when it barred visitors. She said the driver collapsed and was later pronounced dead in a hospital—a narrative now disputed by Santos who said he was taken directly to a funeral home.
She deferred comment on Tuesday regarding Santos’ complaint, saying would want to see a copy first.