Corruption claims vs INC ‘all hearsay’ — church spokesman
MANILA, Philippines — The allegations of corruption and anomalies hurled against the Iglesia ni Cristo and its leaders have turned to be “all hearsay, zero evidence,” the church’s spokesman said on Sunday.
In a statement, INC spokesman Edwin Zabala said the allegations of wrongdoing being pinned on the homegrown church’s leaders were not but “sustained and deliberately planned efforts to besmirch their reputation, sow division within the church, and consequently discredit it in the eyes of the public.”
“We continue to pray for enlightenment of those who attack us. At the same time, we assure the Filipino people and our own membership that we shall be steadfast and determined in defending the church. The truth is on our side,” he said.
Zabala criticized what he described as the “much-publicized but failed attempts” to file criminal charges against the INC leaders, particularly members of the church’s Sanggunian or governing council.
The INC’s “detractors,” he said, “are less concerned now with proving their charges in court, as their focus is simply to use the media to sow public distrust and internal discord by making fantastic, baseless allegations anchored on hearsay.”
Zabala pointed out that the latest accusations of a former INC minister in the United States, Vincent Florida, were “perfect examples of how statements that would be thrown out in court have become the bases for damaging news reports.”
Florida alleged last week that there were irregularities in the handling of financial contributions in the US, with INC leaders supposedly involved in smuggling funds via private planes owned by the INC to banks in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands to avoid the US’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Florida claimed that as a result of these irregularities, he had reported involved INC officials to the IRS.
The IRS clarified last week, however, through IRS Special Agent Arlette Lee, that no tax fraud or tax offense case had been filed against any INC official in any US federal court.
Zabala also said Florida failed to present proof to substantiate his claims about the existence of INC’s private jets and quoted him as saying, “I cannot attest to that, but that’s what I heard.”
The INC spokesman also said the church was vindicated by the Department of Justice’s dismissal for lack of probable cause and lack of evidence the complaints of illegal detention, harassment and coercion filed by ex-minister Isaias Samson Sr. and former member Jose Norlito Fruto.
“It is easy to make up stories of wrongdoing and just let them spread all over the media [but as the DOJ dismissals show,] being able to prove these stories with facts is difficult, and this is something our critics have repeatedly failed to do,” Zabala said. SFM
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