Fearing for his life, Lowell Menorca II, one of the main figures in the public rift within the influential Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) in the Philippines, has fled to Canada.
In his first media interview after his arrival, Menorca said in a global exclusive by the ReyFort Media Group on April 26, 2016 that he has filed for refugee status. In the interview, he was solemn and tearful as he related his journey of almost ten months. His voice broke and stops retelling his story when he relates his fear for his wife and daughter who were not able to travel with him. Menorca was not able to bring along his pregnant wife and two-year-old daughter. The two are waiting for him to be able to bring them to Canada.
Menorca related to Rosette Correa, editor of ReyFort Media Group’s Philippine Asian News Today and anchor of Philippine News Canada, that from the Philippines, he and his family travelled to Vietnam. From there, they proceeded to Thailand. They stayed in Thailand for a few weeks, finally deciding to apply for a visa to Canada, where his sister lives. While Menorca was granted a visa, his wife and child were denied. Despite the difficult decision, Menorca went on with his Canada application, praying that his family will follow him soon.
“I’m just hoping that I will get my family,” Menorca said in the interview.
Previously, Menorca had accused the INC leadership in the Philippines of posing a threat to his life and safety.
The INC worker is being suspected by the INC hierarchy of being part of a campaign to discredit the leadership with issues of corruption and other irregularities.
In his first Canadian interview, Menorca denied participation in such campaign against INC leaders.
However, Menorca also said that there are many INC members who are now calling themselves Defenders.
“These are people like me who are standing for the truth, who want transparency,” he said.
According to the 39-year-old father, the problems within the INC have “not been resolved”.
“It’s getting worse,” he said.
“My personal advocacy, which is being embraced by a lot of Defenders all over the world, is transparency,” Menorca said. “This is what we and other Defenders pray for for the church we have known as children, the church we know that teaches love, compassion, truth and fairness.”
Menorca has been expelled by the church.
The INC rebel has a mother and sister in Vancouver.
He arrived in Vancouver on April 1, the birthday of his mother. He filed a refugee claim upon his arrival before the Canada Border Services Agency. His papers were processed and completed early the next day, April 2, which was his birthday.
In a statement on April 27, Menorca said that he was “granted conditional refugee status”.
“I am now scheduled for a hearing in front of the Immigration Refugee Board on May 26. My pregnant wife, child and sister-in-law are still in Thailand where we fled due to threat on our lives,” he related.
According to him, they decided to leave the Philippines after “finding a death threat note” against his young daughter, Yurie Keiko Menorca.
“Please help us,” Menorca pleaded. “We are appealing to your government because our own government has failed us. The politicians are more interested in the solid bloc vote INC has been known to deliver than protecting the rights of its own citizens. INC is being wooed by Presidential candidates and aspirants at other levels of government.”
“I am just one man standing for the truth and what is right against a very, very powerful institution,” Menorca also said. “I am no match for them. This is why we are begging your good government to grant us refuge. We are in dire need of protection from a government such as yours, whose law enforcement is faithful to its duty to protect and serve its citizens.”
“I sincerely believe that I am right in the choice I have made to seek the help from the government of Canada. I implore the Canada Immigration to allow them to come here as soon as possible. My hearing on May 26th might be too late for them. Please grant my family, including my unborn child, my sister-in-law, brother, his wife and our household help refuge and protection in your country.”
PNT has attempted to contact the INC leaders in Canada but they have yet to reply.
Watch Preview of the interview
Story by PNT News Services