The Canadian government has granted Lowell Menorca a refugee status after 20 months of uncertainty, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported Thursday.
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has approved expelled Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) member Lowell Menorca II’s claim for refugee status after ruling that he is “a person in need of protection from a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment and a risk to his life,” the CBC report said.
It said the Canadian board noted that the INC “is motivated by a vendetta” against the 40-year-old Menorca, an unordained INC minister.
“I cried and I cried, and thanked God that finally this was the vindication I was praying for,” Menorca said, as quoted in the CBC report.
Menorca, a former manggagawa made headlines in 2015 after he was allegedly abducted in Sorsogon, after being suspected of being behind an online blog exposing the alleged INC corruption. The INC leadership dismissed Menorca’s claim.
Menorca faced multiple charges filed by the church, including possession of illegal explosives and abduction among others.
After released from detention, Menorca fled the Philippines with his family.
But while Menorca had a valid visa to fly to the U.S., his daughter and pregnant wife did not.
He says he left them in hiding in Asia, while he boarded a flight to Seattle that was routed through Vancouver. When he landed in Canada, he immediately sought refugee status.
Menorca now hopes to bring his family to Canada and to be granted permanent residency.
His then-pregnant wife Jinky, daughter Yuri Keiko, sister-in-law Jungko Otsuka, brother Anthony Menorca and his wife Shayne, and their house help Abegail Yanson, are still in hiding and he wanted to bring them all to Canada.
“I hope there is a way that I can get them here as soon as possible, now that I have been granted protected-person status here in Canada. And I will still continue to find ways so I can get them here as soon as possible,” he was quoted by the CBC.
“They will never be safe, fully safe, unless we’re all together.” Menorca said.
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