In a jarring two-minute online video, the wife and son of Iglesia ni Cristo’s former Executive Minister Erano “Ka Erdy” Manalo are appealing for help from their churchmates because of what they described as threats to their lives. The elder Manalo led the congregation from 1963 until his death in 2009. He was succeeded by his son Eduardo.
Speaking to the camera with a framed photo of his parents in the background, Felix Nathaniel “Ka Angel” Manalo said: “Nananawagan po kami sa inyo dahil nanganganib po ang aming buhay. Sana’y matulungan niyo po kami.” He then asked the viewers to also listen to his mother’s message which follows immediately.
Cristina Villanueva-Manalo was far-less ambiguous in her audio message. After introducing herself as “Ka Erdy’s” widow, “Ka Tenny” asked for INC adherents to help her son Angel, daughter Lolita, as well as their followers.
“Saklolohan niyo ang aking mga anak, si Angel at Lottie at ang kanilang mga kasama. Tulungan niyo rin ang mga ministro na dinukot at hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa nakikita. Kaawaan natin sila at ang kanilang pamilya,” Mrs. Manalo said. She also expressed willingness to speak to her son Eduardo.
In response to the video, INC spokesperson Bienvenido Santiago announced in a press conference Thursday afternoon the expulsion of “Ka Tenny” and “Ka Angel” from the congregation.
“Masakit man sa loob ng Kapatid na Eduardo Manalo ay ipinasya nila na itiwalag yung mga lumilikha ng mga pagkakabaha-bahagi sa Iglesia. Kaya sa mga pagsambang isasagawa ng Iglesia ni Cristo, simula sa araw na ito ay ipaaalam iyon sa lahat ng kapatid,” Santiago said, as quoted by Rappler.com.
Reports of infighting within the founding family of one the country’s most influential religious sect has been brewing for the past months based on posts made on the Internet by self-described whistle-blower “Antonio Ebanghelista.” One blog site is even calling on disgruntled INC members to stage a rally in the sect’s Central Office in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
The timing of the revelation of this internal strife couldn’t be worse for INC. The group is closing its centennial year celebration this Sunday, July 26. And of course, with just 10 months to go before the 2016 national and local elections, politicians at all levels are once more expected to curry favor from the INC leadership to get the support of the bloc-voting sect.