CHR: Probe 'irregularities' in arrest of ex-INC minister
MANILA, Philippines – A week after the controversial arrest of expelled Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) minister Lowell Menorca II, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) called on law enforcement authorities to investigate the alleged irregularities in the former church worker's arrest.
In a statement, the CHR raised concerns over the "possible strategic abuse of legal processes" in the January 20 arrest of Menorca by plainclothes policemen as he was on his way to a hearing at the Court of Appeals (CA).
"Any report of blatant and public disregard of constitutionally-guaranteed rights of the accused and detained persons, especially if alleged to be committed by state security forces acting on private interests, is a grave and severe matter that merits the full atention of the Commission," the CHR said.
It added, "The allegations, if true, also send a chilling effect that could silence the voice of dissent against abuses and exploitations."
Menorca, who was expelled from the INC for claiming he was abducted and illegally detained for months upon orders of church officials, was arrested because of a libel complaint filed against him in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte.
But he initially resisted arrest, resulting in a scuffle and a standoff, because the arresting officers reportedly refused to show their badges and merely "flashed" the arrest warrant.
Menorca's wife, Jinky, also said the policemen grabbed Menorca as soon as he got out to change vehicles.
Menorca was released last Friday, January 22, after posting bail of P20,000. But he said that he plans to file the appropriate charges against the policemen because of the manner of his arrest.
In its statement, the CHR said the National Police Commission and the Philippine National Police should investigate Menorca's complaints against the arresting officers "and undertake appropriate actions as its findings may warrant."
The commission also urged the justice department and the Supreme Court to investigate claims that legal processes are "being strategically employed to quell rights and legitimate grievances."
Menorca had earlier pointed to the INC as the orchestrator of the libel cases against him. A day after his arrest, Menorca was served a second warrant, for a libel complaint filed against him in Marawi City.
Another libel complaint also surfaced, this time from Cavite.
The ex-minister's camp earlier said that the slew of libel cases and arrest warrants was meant to prevent him from testifying at the CA, which is hearing the petitions for writs of habeas corpus and amparo filed by his relatives in October 2015.
But defense lawyers of the INC pointed out in a hearing on January 26 that Menorca's testimony was already on record through his judicial affidavit. – Rappler.com