by Marieton Pacheco, ABS-CBN News
[Correction—Jan. 17, 2017: This story originally mentioned Rovic Canono as an expelled Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) minister. He is only a former member of the INC.]
BURNABY, CANADA — Almost a year after expelled Iglesio Ni Cristo minister, Lowell Menorca, sought refugee status in Canada — another former INC member is seeking the same.
Rovic Canono landed in Vancouver last December after alleged threats to his life in Manila.
Canono is suspected to be behind the critical blog “Sherlock,” against the INC’s current leadership.
He believes it’s not safe for him to stay in the country.
“Maraming death threats na natatanggap — stalkers sa residence, kotseng tinted na nagaabang sa akin, and nung nakulong, ako marami talagang death threats,” said Canono.
Canono was arrested and detained last November — after his ex-wife filed a complaint against him for violations of the Anti-violence against Women and Children Act.
She says Canono caused her “emotional or psychological distress, public ridicule and humiliation” — all of which Canono denies.
He also faces a series of libel charges in the Philippines.
“6’20 isa sa mga cases na na-file saki was instigated ng wife ko and anak ko na obviously instigated ng church leaders, dahl kung and paguusapan ay family problem, matagal na kaming hindi nagsasama,” he said. “Napakadali sa manila na mag file ng case which is very very sad.”
It was Menorca who convinced Canono to flee the country after he was allowed to post bail.
“I know the pattern of what they’re doing to people like me, people they accuse and suspect of being critical of the church,” Menorca said. “Once they identify you and point their finger on you, they will do everything and involve everyone in your life to go against you.”
Menorca for his part is just waiting for a decision on his refugee claim, after hearings on his case wrapped up last month.
He has been volunteering at a local shelter, nd continues to communicate with his family via Skype.
“We’re trying to cope; I’m very hopeful judge will decide on my favor, and hopefully i’ll be with my family soon,” he said.
Canono’s refugee claim meantime will have it’s first hearing on February.
The crisis within the INC has been ongoing since July 2015.