SC junks disbarment complaint versus Trixie Angeles over Iglesia ni Cristo kidnap case
The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed the disbarment complaint filed by an Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) member against abogada Trixie Cruz-Angeles in retaliation for representing expelled church worker Lowell Menorca and his wife Jinky.
In a recent 2-page notice, the SC 1st Division adopted the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Board of Governor’s (IBP-BOG) May 3, 2018 resolution to dismiss the complaint filed by Roselie Yanson, the mother of the Menorcas’ househelp Abegail Yanson.
Roselie accused Angeles of helping the Menorcas detain Abegail against her will “for the purpose of using her testimony against INC.”
She claimed the lawyer stopped her from hugging her daughter and shoved her away during a November 3, 2015 hearing on the Menorcas’ case at the Court of Appeals (CA).
But, the SC said the IBP made factual findings in favor of Angeles which were “supported by the evidence on record and applicable laws.”
“The Court adopts and accepts these findings and recommendation and resolves to dismiss the case against Atty. Rose Beatrix Cruz-Angeles,” read the notice.
The Menorca family claimed they were abducted on July 16, 2015 from Sorsogon at the orders of the INC’s Sanggunian. This was because Lowell was accused of being behind the activities of blogger Antonio Ebanghelista, who is critical of the INC.
They were supposedly released from the church’s custody on October 22, 2015, shortly after Lowell’s brother Anthony and sister-in-law Jungko Otsuka filed a petition for habeas corpus and amparo.
The INC tried to portray the incident as “pagkalinga (protection),” because there was never outright violence even if the Menorcas’ liberty was allegedly restricted.
While the CA was still conducting hearings to determine if the Menorcas were entitled to the full privileges of the writ, the family fled to Canada in early 2016.
Lowell was granted refugee status in 2018, as the Canadian government found that the INC has “both the means and the motivation to seriously harm or kill him” if he returned to the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Angeles in August 2016 was suspended by the SC from practicing law for three years in connection with an unrelated complaint that she neglected a client’s annulment case despite being paid P350,000.