Personal Reaction: CNN Interview of Samson & Zabala

Present: Isaias Samson Jr. and Edwil Zabala
Host: Pia Hontiveros
News Outlet: CNN Philippines
Link: Video

I was not impressed with either Bro.Samson’s or Bro. Zabala’s attempt to address the issue of the current church crisis and even more specifically their attempt to defend their stance concerning the  “illegal detention” case against eight members of the Church Council.

BRO. EDWIL ZABALA

First off, you should show up in person. Let me put this plain and simple “You’re not the spokesperson for the U.S. or the United Nations. You’re a spokesperson for a church minority in the Philippines!” This means you’re not as important (as you think you are) to not be present during a television interview by a world renowned media organization (CNN) that is being broadcasted both nationally and internationally. Is this a joke to you and to the rest of the public relations team of Central? Show up in person next time. Cant make it you say? Send someone else as opposed to hiding behind a phone. You’re no better than a keyboard commando.

Secondly, do not dodge the questions. There is nothing “vague” about the allegations concerning corruption. Let me illustrate it for you this way since you and your team cannot seem to comprehend the gravity of your refusal to provide solid evidence that the Church Administration has not stolen from the brethren: “The most powerful man in the free world, U.S. President Obama, was pestered by his political adversaries with allegations that he was not a U.S. born citizen, ergo not qualified to be the president of the country. He authorized the White House to release his original birth certificate to put a stop to all the nonsense and in order for the whole nation to move on.” TA DA! That’s how it’s done. Sure you can go back to “the Defenders don’t have solid evidence”… okay? Maybe no evidence to hold up in court and put your leadership team in jail, but there is certainly enough evidence for the Church to be split and for the offerings to go down. Also can you not see how confused and hurt the brethren are by the possibility of this betrayal from the Church Administration? To me it really only comes down to two things:

  1. The Church Administration is too stubborn and uninspired to heal the Church. They have evidence that no corruption was present, but they could care less about the brethren who are confused.
  2. The Church Administration has no evidence to disprove corruption. Therefore, they stall as long as they can, try to distract the brethren with irrelevant issues, and pressure the Philippine government to drop any case against them.

Well which one is it Bro. Zabala? Can you or can you not disprove that there is corruption among your colleagues?

Last but not least, I never heard you say “there was no illegal detention“. What  I really heard was that “the Church has it’s own ways of dealing with disobedience to the leadership that may or may not include putting armed guards outside of someone’s house and in result indirectly threatening them to not leave“. That might be acceptable within the Church but that is not in accordance with the laws of man. The Church has no right to withhold the legal documentation of a citizen of the Philippines. The Church has no legal right to have prevented Bro.Samson from leaving his home or for his wife to see the doctor. IF you in anyway shape or form made Bro. Samson feel threatened to make him stay within the confines of his house, he has legal grounds for “illegal detention”. If you have confiscated his legal documentation and personal electronic devices without his approval OR if you refused to return said items after he has asked from them to be returned… well that is called “theft” and yes, that is against the law.

BRO. ISAIAS SAMSON JR.

My biggest gripe about your interview responses is your insistence in using  esoteric concepts and terminologies. People outside of the Church will think they understand it but they really do not.. not like the way that we, the members of the Church, do. An example of this is when you called people outside of the Church “sanlitbutan (7:33)” or when you quite so effectively isolated the Church and your case by proclaiming that the Iglesia ni Cristo are the only ones that are going to be saved (video 2:00). You are not doing the movement or your case any favors. You are not gaining any more support by doing this. You are in fact giving ammo to the adversaries of the Church to make more fun of us and to further embarrass us as an organization. Were the words that you said true? Sure, I personally believe so. But what you lacked in your  interviews is the mental presence to answer the questions using neutral language or correct political terms.

Also, you did not answer this question from Pia: “Have you ever spoken to Eduardo Manalo himself about this [corruption and abductions]?”. Here are the only two real answers to this question:

  1. Yes you spoke to him and he did not listen to you. However, if the Executive Minister was made aware of the corruptions and yet refused to launch an official investigation concerning mismanagement of Church funds and the rumors turned out to be true… then he would most likely be deposed from his position after this crisis is over.
  2. No you didn’t speak to him, therefore you did not go through the proper channels of notifying the leaders of the Church concerning supposed corruption within its leadership team

So which one is it? Pia seems convinced that you did speak with him.

Here is an even better question: “Did the Church Council put you under house arrest with the approval of the Executive Minister?” I am inclined to believe that the Executive Minister authorized your house arrest especially during this time that the Church Council is under the microscope of the public. The Council would have ensured that their actions were sanctioned by the Executive Minister. If so, the next logical question is “Is the Executive Minister also not guilty of your illegal detainment when he approved it and if so, why is he not part of the case against the Church Council?” I hope that God is with you in this decision to withhold the truth. You might be trying to save the Executive Minister from his previous actions at the expense of the well-being of the Church and her future state but please do realize that withholding the whole truth is as evil as telling a lie for there is no good form of lying. Whether it is a lie, a white lie, or only telling part of the truth… it is a lie and it is punishable by God (Proverbs 6:16-19).

CONCLUSION

Both men don’t get it. The only real result of this interview was that the Church name was hurt. They don’t realize that the only true way to heal the Church is to provide the truth but it seems that both sides are working in the shadows to accomplish their own ulterior objectives. They do not understand that in order to quell the unrest within everyone’s hearts and to mitigate the spiritual pain that the Church is experiencing, they must speak the truth, only the truth, and all of the truth and in result “win the hearts and mind of the brethren“.

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16 thoughts on “Personal Reaction: CNN Interview of Samson & Zabala

  1. In a way, I think I understand why Bro. Isaias Samson tried to avoid commenting something about Bro. EVM: It is because that he is trying not to be labeled as someone who is against Bro. EVM. Remember the situation of the Church nowadays: If you are not one with EVM, or if you say something questionable about him, that will automatically mean that you are (or in some cases, rebelling) against him. That alone can surely make him lose his credibility among the members of the Church.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The problem is that the Office of the Executive Minister is held in such high esteem by the Ministry. The total dependence of their families with respect to food, shelter, and clothing from that Office sadly necessitates the need for the majority to ignore personal inclinations on prevailing issues.

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  3. Dear Iglesia Ni Cristo Sentinel,

    I admire you in your previous posts, but with this one, I’m sad. I believe you are or at least had been a member of INC; and most probably a minister or was a minister.

    I’m just an ordinary member, but I have an idea about the situations of both of them; which are NOT easy.
    By the way, are you MORE truthful and brave than Ka Jun Samson? If yes, then, why not REVEAL your true IDENTITY and let the Church Administration KNOW YOU…

    Sincerely

    Bro. Samuel David

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  4. The back-and-forth on social media sites isn’t going to resolve this issue. It keeps it alive, yes, but does little to resolve it. Although there have been a LOT of different accusations hurled against the leaders of the church administration, it all boils down to — Money Management. This is the one topic that the church administration WON’T discuss or answer. They’ll bag on expelled brethren and ministers and Manalo family members, at times laughing as they do so (TOTALLY inappropriate, IMHO), but there are no direct answers to direct questions about money management. They say, “If you are going to read those poisonous blogs, be sure to read the church’s responses too”, but there are none when it comes to money management. When Bro. Matt Pareja (sp?) was here ‘on tour’, the closest he came to addressing money management concerns was to ask, (paraphrasing) “Back when Bro EGM was the Executive Minister, the church build the temple, we built a hospital, we built a school, and none of the brethren complained then. Why are they complaining now about the Arena?” The quick and easy answer that came to MY mind (and, by the way, the minds of many other members I know) was “Because, back then, the church didn’t conduct month-after-month of Special Offerings – money diverted from Locale Funds – for these building projects. We simply gave our normal offerings and, as EGM once said in a televised (on YouTube) lesson, these projects simply appeared – because the money the brethren were giving was more than enough.
    Now, after back-to-back-to-back Special Meetings and Special Services (some of which, they’re asking for MORE money/offerings), the administration asks for “Reaction Statements”. However, at least here in Southern California, it is WELL know that if you’re not planning on writing something positive, it’s definitely in your best interest to write nothing at all – because there is still that rumbling undertone of fear that ANY response viewed as negative or not “One with EVM” will immediately place you on a watch list for potential (likely?) expulsion. Brethren across California are scared to death to say something that could be viewed as ‘questioning’ for fear that someone will report them.
    The administration is not the administration I remember it to be; one that encouraged questions, even uncomfortable questions or challenging questions, because – back then – it gave them the opportunity to answer those questions directly, quickly, and simply. Back then, they wanted no shadow of question or doubt in the minds of the brethren, and they were eager to do whatever it took to clear those questions from the brethren’s minds. Now, questions are evil. Questions are synonymous with defiance. This shouldn’t be true – but it is. The order of the day is (and I quote) “Blind Obedience!” Couldn’t believe that the first time I heard it. Now I’ve heard it too many times.
    I don’t know about other districts, but in Southern Cal, expulsions are common… even for something as simple as “LIKE’ing a post or sharing a post. And family members, all of them, are expelled along with the offending member. These happen quickly. They happen often. They regularly happen without due-process.

    Bottom Line — I really don’t know if anyone in the administration is mismanaging money. I don’t know if people are/were being held against their will. I don’t know if the stories I’ve heard about some of the over-the-phone or text-expulsions is really happening. But what I DO know is, the way the administration is handling this crisis is totally inappropriate. Their actions – their words – are the exact same actions and words used by cults (like Scientology) whenever those in authority deal with members they feel may cause trouble to their revenue stream. That similarity – one that non-members around the world can now see very easily – makes me very sad.
    We had a Worship Service Evangelical Mission recently, an event that is supposed to be used for propagation. We are encouraged to bring guests so that they can hear the truth of the true church. On that day what did they hear? Our minister going on and on for nearly 2 hours about the church crisis, the many “lies” being told about the church, the many expelled members and ministers, and so on. Yes, that was exactly what our guests needed to hear to convert them to the true faith. Well done!
    Sorry for the rant. I’m looking for a ray of sunshine in the distance that hints that the administration will see the errors in how they are handling this. I don’t see it yet. But it is that light, that hope, that I pray for daily.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. While I understand your frustrations, I do not believe your criticism of Ka Jun Samson is warranted much when you consider that this was not a venue to debate INC Church doctrine or to discuss Church policies for that matter. As far as I understand, and which Ka Jun has repeatedly admonished, his legal case isn’t against the INC or Ka Eduardo, but to specific individuals that he feels have illegally impinged upon his civil rights. If laws have been broken than those individuals should be held accountable for them.

    He came across to me, as someone who dearly loves the Church of Christ and Ka Eduardo, and doesn’t intend to drag the Church through the mud anymore than the un-Christian responses from the Sanggunian, the Ministerial FB brigade, the misguided INCmedia services, and the Protest Rallies, etc. have already done on their own. (“Dynamic” Leadership? Really INCMedia? Dynamic would be the last adjective I would consider using when describing one’s religious faith or its leader. CEO’s, Media Moguls, Business Tycoons, OK, dynamic works. Religious leaders, no. How about just using “Progressive”).

    Ka Jun, more than anyone else as far as I can tell, has put his name, his reputation, and himself on the line in order to shed light on the un-Christian actions by members of the Sanggunian, which will have a greater impact on their consciences than any anonymous blog posting you, or myself, or even AE would have hoped to accomplish. Godspeed to him and his family.

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  6. There are those who are blind of both sides, very unfortunate. I do not write for the pleasure of people. I write the truth. I do not write to defend the “defenders”, I write to please God and to pursue his truth and justice.

    The question still stands: If the Executive Minister approved or even ordered the house arrest of Bro.Samson, why is the Executive Minister not part of the lawsuit? Like I responded to “I am not Blind” on my facebook page: “I have understood that from the very beginning my Brother/Sister [that Bro.Samson avoided naming the Executive Minister in the lawsuit against the Church Council]. But we are not the assigned “selectors” of justice. Our orders from God is simply to follow justice. A revelation of a truth that might legally implicate the Executive Minister is not a rebellion, it is to its truest form of what it is: a revelation of truth. Shall we bathe in hypocrisy proclaiming to rid the Church of corruption yet work in the shadows to protect a man that may no longer be doing God’s work? God’s justice is complete and spares no man. We may fool the members but we will never fool God. I do understand that there is a strategic incentive to not naming the Executive Minister in the case against the eight Council Members, but I encourage everyone to not decide for God prior to Him judging. Let the truth come out. If it is God’s will for him to not to be judged by the laws of man (if he committed wrong doings) then so be it for I am not one to go against the Father. However, I will not perverse justice nor compromise the integrity of the reformation of the Church for the sake of those that chose to turn their backs against our Almighty God. Until the day that they repent to God and make amends with the brethren for the sins that they have committed against the Church, I will not yield in my pursuit of truth and justice. ”

    My criticism is not on what Bro.Samson is doing.. it is HOW he is doing it. Regardless of whether you think he is more worthy because of his courage is irrelevant. Only the results matter my brethren. Do not be blinded by your sentiments or attachments.

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  7. My suspicion is that Bro Eduardo is reluctant to remove Bro. Jun Santos from the council for these reasons
    #1. He (Jun Santos) Knew too much.
    #2. Members of Sanggunian will expose Bro. Eduardo that he is an accomplice in stealing church funds
    Either way, Bro. Eduardo’s name is tarnished and he will have a difficult time bringing the church back to its glorious state!

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  8. I understand and agree with the points you are making BUT I can also see that Samson’s refusal to name the exec. minister or even talk about the level of involvement he’s had in the current crisis, might just be his way of minimizing the resistance/push back from members; who sadly might respond aggressively as previewed in the EDSA “rally”. There was alot of hate and ignorance there, imagine how worse it could’ve been.

    Maybe he’s just buying time. If Bro. Eduardo. V Manalo is also complicit, then God will reveal his involvement and crimes in due time, perhaps during the course of the criminal investigation. What is clear is that the church will not be able to progress forward with an executive minister who has arguably failed to take care of the church. As Cora mentioned: It’s going to be difficult with his name already tarnished.

    I agree that there needs to be total reform in the church and that it can only come from the complete truth being made public but that in itself is a very precarious situation, especially when people are easily riled up and fail to listen to reason.

    There is no way of knowing the best course for restoring the church, Samson has obviously taken the cautious route intending to lessen the blow on peoples preconceptions. Would a direct approach quelled doubts about the guilt of those accused? most definitely, atleast for those who think with reason and understanding. But I don’t know if doing it that way would be the most effective way of winning hearts and minds of members ingrained in their way of thinking or lack thereof. We don’t want a schism or anyone being physically harmed in the process.

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  9. Let Ka Edwil and Ka Jun learn from criticism, then.
    Brother Jun could have had his reasons for not filing a case against Brother Eduardo. I could think of two.
    1. He was interrogated by the advisory council and not the executive minister.
    2. The executive minister is accountable only to our Almighty God.

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  10. I believe ka Jun believes that once the sangoonians got stirred up it will find its course towards their big boss(EVM&FAM).Then the hatred will be on the villains themselves pointing on him rather than ka Jun causing the stirr and more blind followers goin to rally behind the inclusion of EVM in his complaint…

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  11. I think the biggest “elephant in the room” here is this:
    ” How can all of these blatant evil doings being done by the sanggunian happen without the executive minister’s knowledge? And the “logical” answer to that is, it doesn’t.”
    I will risk the ire of other brethren here by saying that “logically” evidence points to the fact that the executive minister is aware of these things being done by the sanggunian but for some “unknown” reason, decides not to act on them. There is simply too much evidence (the planes, the concerts, the selling, the special offerings, Fort Victoria, etc.) that is already out in plain sight that it is almost impossible to say that the executive EVM does not know any of these things happening.
    I will not postulate to I know what the executive minister’s reasons are for ignoring these things, I simply think that he is aware of them.

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  12. The “Elephant in The Room” is actually the next title and content of the article I will be publishing. You’re steps ahead of me Bill Ted 🙂 It will be up soon. Thank you for sharing your logical approach.

    This is what some of the people commenting here do not understand. It does not matter if the Executive Minister was not the one that tortured any of our brethren. It does not matter if the Executive himself was not the one that held a rifle to prevent Bro. Samson from leaving. DID HE OR DID HE NOT APPROVE THOSE TASKS CARRIED OUT BY THE CHURCH COUNCIL? That is the question.

    Imagine it this way: A wife wanted to kill her husband and she hired an assassin. The assassin got caught after the deed was done. It was found out that the wife hired the assassin. Even though she was not the one who directly killed her husband… should she not be charged in the court of law for committing a crime? The question is rhetorical and the answer is yes, she should be charged of committing a crime.

    So did the Executive Minister approve the torture, illegal detainment, and harassment of the brethren? Again, If the answer is yes, why was he not included in the lawsuit against the Church Council? Some people say that the true reason he was not included is because of the multitudes of brethren that would revolt. Sure. That is a possibility, but so what? Not “so what” in the sense that we want chaos, but shall we sacrifice our integrity and trust to God for our own plans and understanding?Have we become so accustomed to our own personal understanding and predictions that we have forgotten that we could do no wrong if we follow the commandments of God? Shall God not guide us if we fulfill His laws and walk on the paths that He instructed us to walk on?

    You people are too proud. Proud of your own understanding. Proud of your own plans. You do not know better than God. Follow the law… and the law says do not lie. The law says uphold justice. God will do the rest. God will take care of the Church. No matter who or what Evil tries to turn the Church away, it will never succeed for our Almighty God promised us so:

    “Two-thirds of the people in the land will be struck down and die,” says the Lord, “but one-third will survive. Then I will test those survivors by giving them many troubles. The troubles will be like the fire a person uses to prove silver is pure. I will test them the way a person tests gold. Then they will call to me for help, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘You are my people.’ And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” (Zechariah 13:8-11)

    Follow God’s instructions and you will succeed. Trust solely in your own plans and understanding and God will fail you.

    I.N.C. Sentinel

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  13. Someone was reassigned from Central to one of the provinces in the Philippines. I was told Ka Eduardo himself fetched him up to bring him back to Central. He did not know this person was reassigned by the Sanggunian. I am not certain how true this is. But this makes me wonder how much I do not know.

    Should I just accept the idea that being the executive minister, Brother Eduardo is responsible for every decision made by his subordinates, with or without his knowledge/consent? It is so tempting to think in terms of events and results because it makes judgments so much simpler. “Look at the Church today, this is all his fault.” But such an approach is cold and is devoid of love and compassion, which, ironically, are the qualities that we are asking from them. I think asking WHY something was or was not done is as important as asking WHAT was or was not. The law ascertains facts/events/results but reasons/motives are not always within its reach. It is only our Lord God who completely understands our hearts. Why did Ka Eduardo allow such things to happen? Was it to save as many members as possible? Was he being forced to just go along with others’ decisions? Was it Ka Eduardo himself who wanted these things to happen because he just is selfish and vile and does not really care about us?

    I think this is why the Bible says only the Father has the right to judge us. He is the only one who knows everything about us. The 8 members of the advisory council have to be implicated because they are directly involved. Bible history showing God’s servants refusing to lay their hands against erring leaders also contributes to the reluctance to implicate Ka Eduardo in these issues.

    If I were Ka Jun Samson, I would avoid dragging Ka Eduardo’s name into the issue as much as I can, not as a strategy, but as a humble gesture before the Lord God acknowledging that He alone knows what is in Ka Eduardo’s heart and trusting that He would do with him as He sees fit.

    But then again, my understanding of Ka Eduardo’s involvement is very limited.

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    1. danielprayerful – you are correct when said “I think asking WHY something was or was not done is as important as asking WHAT was or was not.” I do not think people are jumping to the conclusion here that it is all EVM’s fault as the “the buck stops here” kind of thing. I think what INC Sentinel is trying to say is that people should not assume that EVM is faultless just because of the office he holds. As stated in the bible, many people chosen by God fell from grace, Saul, King David, King Solomon, even Judas. Again, I do not think people are saying EVM is as guilty as the rest of the sanggunian, However it is also not right to assume that EVM is innocent and that he is only a “victim” of the sanggunian (in my opinion that is quite hard to swallow). The fact is we simply do not know for sure what is what (or why).

      There is evidence however that strongly points to the fact that EVM is aware of certain things happening, he did ride in the Airbus right? He did see that a lot of the passengers in the airbus are relatives of the sanggunian and that these people are not really there on “official business”. Other things though are much more vague and harder to ascertain, for example; did EVM know if the kickbacks in the construction of the Philippine Arena. To be honest, if I look at this objectively, I cannot even say there WERE any kickbacks in the construction of the Philippine Arena, its really only hear say until someone proves this in the court of law (or if i saw it with my own eyes).

      So in the end, no one really knows if EVM is with the good guys or with the bad guys (or maybe a bit of both). The only thing we know that he (or anyone else for that matter) is not above God’s laws, he is not above the truth.

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