(Eagle News) — The Quezon City regional trial court on March 7 issued a decision upholding the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s rights over its property at no. 36 Tandang Sora, Avenue in Quezon City, ruling that unauthorized persons are banned from entering the area.
In a 12-page decision on the petition for injunction filed by the INC in September 2015, Quezon City RTC judge Edgar Dalmacio Santos of Branch 222 said the INC “has, for purposes of this case, established by preponderance of evidence that it is the registered owner of the subject property.”
In the decision, Judge Santos ruled that no person who is not authorized by the INC should be allowed to enter the property.
The judge partially granted the INC’s petition for injunction which was filed two years ago against expelled INC members led by Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo and Lolita “Lottie” Hemedez since it had been proven that they had earlier allowed hooded and armed men from entering the property based on photo and video footages submitted by the INC.
In its decision, Judge Santos enjoined the expelled Manalo siblings “from allowing persons from entering and/or exiting the subject property through unauthorized means (i.e. not through the gates and without going through proper identification procedure).”
The decision also barred them “from allowing hooded men from entering/loitering the subject property.” Thirdly, the court also specifically barred Angel Manalo and Lottie Hemedez “from allowing armed unidentified men from entering/loitering” the said INC property.
QC court notes entry of unidentified masked men in T. Sora property
The court found merit in the evidence presented by the INC that unidentified hooded and masked men were able to enter the 36 Tandang Sora property as early as September 2015, a few months after Angel Manalo and Lottie Hemedez were expelled by the INC for violating its doctrines.
The decision particularly pointed out the testimony of witnesses and CCTV video footages that showed that several unidentified men, many of whom wore hoods and masks, were freely entering the property’s gates “carrying various boxes and baggage” from September 1 to 26, 2015.
The court also pointed out the evidence provided by the INC that even on July 26, 2015, or just three days after Angel Manalo and Lottie Hemedez were expelled from the INC, several armed men were already seen inside the Tandang Sora compound which they were occupying. The armed men were seen together with the other defendants, expelled INC ministers Roel Rosal and Joy Yuson, who “acted as leaders during their assembly.”
“The plaintiff (INC) avers that notwithstanding that the defendants Angel Manalo and Lottie M. Hemedez are mere occupants by tolerance of their houses, the latter abused the same by allowing unidentified persons to go in and out over its objections,” the court’s ruling noted.
Among those who were named as unauthorized persons to enter the property were expelled INC members Roel Rosal and his wife Shirley, Joy Yuson and several other persons.
It was only on September 1, 2015 that the INC installed CCTV cameras near the area to monitor the movement of persons illegally entering the property.
The court also later allowed the INC to post guards outside the gates of the 36 T. Sora property after evidence from the CCTV video showed how unidentified men had been freely entering the property without the INC’s knowledge.
-Faeldon and military-looking men also seen in T. Sora property
A month later, in October 2015, “seven military looking individuals” accompanied by the then lawyer of the expelled Manalo siblings, Atty. Trixie Angeles, were seen trying to enter the property. They were later identified as soldiers linked to former Army captain, now Bureau of Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon. In fact, Faeldon was also seen trying to enter the INC property, accompanied by his former lawyer in the Magdalo case, Atty. Angeles, and another lawyer, Ahmed Paglinawan.
The court noted that Atty. Angeles accompanied these seven military-looking men whom she was trying to get inside the Tandang Sora compound. She claimed they were hired as houseboys and gardeners by her clients.
These military-looking men were identified as John Santiago Jr., Cochi Briagas Ayad, Robert Tonogbanua, Florencio D. Acabo, Joseph Sabbaluca, Jonathan Ledesma and Virgilio Espejo. Almost all of them were later confirmed to be members of the Philippine Armed Forces and were allegedly connected to Faeldon.
Jonathan Ledesma and Jonathan Sabbaluca were among the 30 persons rounded up on March 2 by the police from the Tandang Sora property.
Ledesma, with Sabbaluca at his side, even shot and injured two police officers during the serving of a court-issued search warrant on the property on March 2. He had been charged with illegal possession of firearms, and direct assault with frustrated murder, for the shooting.
He and Sabbaluca had admitted that they were former members of the Philippine Marines and were involved in the Magdalo mutiny wherein Faeldon was one of the leaders.
Almost two years after the INC filed its petition, the Quezon City court said that the INC was able to prove that “there is an urgent and permanent necessity to prevent serious damage” to its property at no. 36 Tandang Sora Avenue in Quezon City, especially since “unknown/unauthorized armed/hooded men (were) seen in the subjecty property being occupied by defendants Angel Manalo and Lolita Hemedez.”
– QC court rules INC has right to protect its property
The court ruled that the presence before of unidentified armed and hooded men in the property was a “substantial/material invasion of the plaintiff’s right to know of the people going in and out of its property in relation to its right to protect itself and its property.”
On March 2 and 8, the Quezon City Police District found a large cache of high-powered firearms and ammunition inside the 36 Tandang Sora property then occupied by the expelled Manalo siblings and their supporters.
The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office has already recommended no bail for Angel Manalo after it found probable cause for the charges of illegal possession of firearms filed by the police against him on Friday, March 3.
More high-powered firearms and ammunition were, however, later found in the building occupied previously by expelled INC member Lottie Hemedez who is also facing similar charges.
(Eagle News Service)