Eliseo Soriano

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Eliseo Fernando Soriano
Religion Members Church of God International
Other names Brother Eli
Pen name Truthcaster
Personal
Nationality Filipino
Born (1947-04-04) April 4, 1947 (age 67)
(14 of Nisan 5707 in Hebrew Calendar)
Pasay City, Philippines
Senior posting
Title Presiding Minister
Predecessor Nicolas Antiporda Perez (as the Minister of the Iglesia ng Dios (Haligi't Suhay))
Religious career
Works Leaving Behind the Fundamental Doctrines of Christ (Published 1999)
Ordination 1969
Present post Minister

Eliseo Fernando "Bro. Eli" Soriano (born April 4, 1947) is a Filipino televangelist. He is the current Presiding Minister of the Philippines-based Christian organization Members Church of God International, colloquially known through its radio and television program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path, Portuguese: O Caminho Antigo, Spanish: El Camino Antiguo). His radio and television program is considered the longest-running religious program in the Philippines.

Soriano is known for his signature method of "Bible Expositions". This live event adopts the symposium format where guests and visitors get the chance to ask Soriano with their questions personally or by live video streaming.[1] In some occasions, he "exposes" the doctrinal errors of various other religious groups. An incident when he used a defamatory word in his television show[2] consequently led to a three-month suspension of the program in a case that went to the Supreme Court of the Philippines.[3]

Biography

Soriano was born to Triunfo Soriano and Catalina Fernando in Pasay City and is the seventh of eight children. He grew up in Pampanga. He started school at the age of eight.[4]

Soriano was supposed to receive the highest honors of the school, but he dropped out three months before graduation due to an alleged religious debate between Soriano and the school administrator.[5] On April 7, 1964, three days after his 17th birthday, Eliseo was baptised in Seneguelasan, Bacoor, Cavite, and became an official member of the Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan (Church of God in Christ Jesus, Pillar and Support of the Truth in English) founded by Nicolas Perez[citation needed] where his parents were also members.

Appointed as Minister

In 1969, Nicolas Antiporda Perez, who was then the church's presiding minister, bestowed upon Soriano the title minister making him the only minister in the Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan at that time. Rumors were circulating that Soriano is going to be Perez's successor.[5] However, after the death of Nicolas Perez in 1975, Levita Gugulan was appointed as temporary Presiding General Secretary of the group. Soriano initially accepted the appointment of Gugulan but subsequently denounced her leadership stating that women should not be leaders of the church according to the Bible.[6]

The Schism

In 1976, Soriano and his allies left Gugulan's sect. In 1977, Soriano registered a new group, called Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Saligan ng Katotohanan(Church of God in Christ Jesus, Pillar and Ground of Truth in English), which was later changed to Mga Kaanib sa Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Saligan ng Katotohanan sa Bansang Pilipinas, Inc. ("Members of the Church of God in Christ Jesus, Pillar and Ground of Truth, Philippines, Inc." in English).[7]

Because of the similarity between the name used by Gugulan's group and Soriano's group, the former filed a suit, which was resolved by the Supreme Court of the Philippines in 2001 in favor of Gugulan's group and Soriano's group was ordered to change their church's name.[8] In 2004 Soriano's group changed their church's name as Members of the Church of God International.

Golden Age of Ang Dating Daan

Before starting his flagship TV program, Soriano would preach in different towns and municipalities in the Philippines.[5] In 1980, Soriano started the Ang Dating Daan radio program, which became a television program in 1983. In 1983, Soriano was invited as a panelist in GMA-7's multi-religious program, "Dis [This] is Manolo and His Genius Family". He, along with other representatives of religious groups, would debate and defend their beliefs in the show. Soriano won and was awarded "Most Outstanding Gospel Minister of the Year 1983".[5] Soon, Soriano would receive multiple awards from different charity orgranizations, notably as "Bayani ng Lahing Kayumanggi (Hero of the Brown Race)".

Being invited to talk shows

In January 20, 1999, Soriano was invited [9] to be the guest in Korina Sanchez's talkshow "Balitang K" (K News). There Soriano admitted that the Ang Dating Doon program, which is a parody of his Ang Dating Daan show, actually helped raise the popularity of the said religious program. The terms "Alien" (parody of Amen), and "Raise the Roof" (parody of Praise the Lord!) also became popular among televiewers during those years.

In February 4, 1999, Soriano was featured [9] in the GMA-7 talkshow program Extra-Extra which is then hosted by Paolo Bediones and Karen Davila. A similar interview occurred in March 29 of the same year.

Current Status

He is currently on exile [10] due to the various death threats he received during his controversial years. He used this opportunity to preach in other countries.

Currently, Ang Dating Daan airs in 73 countries worldwide including United States, Brazil, Uruguay, Portugal (as "O Caminho Antigo"), Spain (as "El Camino Antiguo"), India, South Africa, Saipan.[11]

In his TV show Itanong mo kay Soriano (Ask Soriano) he invites people to ask him any bible-related question.

Charitable works

Soriano, through the help of his nephew Daniel Razon, has been spearheading many projects for the indigent. These include free medical and dental check-ups, a free Bus Ride and a free Transient Home for homeless people.[12] Soriano and Razon created a free college scholarship program at the La Verdad Christian College in Metro Manila which will provide scholarships to deserving youth.[13]

On May 17, 2010, Soriano appeared (through a live video patch) in a concert conceptualized by Daniel Razon and was titled Protest Broadcast 3. The concert aims to help the families of the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. The victims’ representatives received the net proceeds of the concert. The media workers’ orphaned children would also be granted scholarships. During his appearance, Soriano harshly criticized Former Philippine President Arroyo, whom he blamed for his legal troubles.[10]

On August 1, 2010, Soriano-Razon's free college program would receive further financial support from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) through a basketball game to be played by the PBA. The game, titled "Hoopsters Meet The Legends: Kahit Isang Araw Lang" is scheduled for the Cuneta Astrodome. The teams involved are the "PBA legends", Hoopsters (led by Razon) and the KAPI team. All the net proceeds will be given to support the free college program of Soriano and Razon.[14]

Soriano and Razon are also involved with the donation and launch of two Mobile Schools (dubbed Dunong Gulong Project [15][16]) equipped with learning tools suited for the ALS (Alternative Learning System) of Philippine Education. The project was initially conceptualized during a talk between Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro and Razon in the latter's television program "Good Morning Kuya".

On November 27, 2010 Education Secretary Luistro signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Daniel Razon at the ADD Convention Center regarding the Dunong Gulong launch.[17][18] The two Dunong Gulong mobile school buses were launched at the SM Mall of Asia on November 28, 2010.[19] "And words became action". This is how Luistro described the project. He is impressed because of the support given by public service channel UNTV and the benevolent group, the Ang Dating Daan headed by Soriano, to anti-illiteracy campaign of the Philippines.

Legal Issues

Conflicts with the Iglesia ni Cristo

The Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) "has been in conflict" against Soriano ever since 1980 when Soriano started his Bible-exposé program "Ang Dating Daan". Iglesia ni Cristo, criticised by Soriano and Filipino media agencies for their political influence,[20] also launched "Ang Tamang Daan" to counter Soriano's criticisms.

In August 2003, the Iglesia ni Cristo sued Soriano for libel after Soriano accused them of publishing explicit comic books depicting Soriano having homosexual sex. In 2007, Soriano filed multiple petitions to stop the lawsuit to no avail.[21]

In 2005, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB, Philippines) banned Soriano's programs because of statements made by Soriano against the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), and the MTRCB. He was prohibited from uttering libelous and defamatory statements against INC. Soriano had used terms like iglesiang pumapatay ng kapwa tao (church who murders) and iglesia ni Manalo (church of Manalo) to malign the INC in his programs.[22] The Philippine's Commission on Human Rights urged Soriano to file charges against the MTRCB. The CHR ruled that Soriano's "freedom of speech and religion" was violated by the MTRCB's suspension order.[23]

In the November 10, 2005 issue of Philippine Daily Inquirer internet edition, it was reported Eliseo Soriano was put on the Bureau of Immigration watchlist. The order was made by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales on the request of the Pampanga Prosecutor's Office.[24]

Allegations of sexual assault

In May 2006, Soriano was indicted on rape charges at the regional trial court of Macabebe, Pampanga, following a complaint filed by former MCGI productions (ADDCIT) staff Daniel Veridiano that he was sexually assaulted in Apalit, Pampanga on two occasions.[25] Soriano countered, claiming that Veridiano was only retaliating after being expelled from the MCGI sect due to alleged misappropriation of funds of the ADD. Charges of Perjury under Art. 183 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines was also filed by Soriano against Veridiano.[26] Sooner, the church released videos showing Veridiano admitting his crimes in the church and that he committed acts of lasciviousness against 14 fellow members; this was during the time Veridiano was still "de jure" (yet suspended) member of the church.[27]

The charge was dismissed due to lack of evidences but was later refiled in a higher court by the country's Department of Justice Secretary, Raul Gonzales.[26] Macabebe Regional Trial Court Judge Manuel Siyangco issued the warrant of arrest. Soriano was allowed to post a P400,000 bail bond (P200,000 for each count).[26][28]

In November 2006, an arrest warrant was issued against Soriano by Judge Lucina Dayaon, Macabebe. Soriano posted a P240,000 bail at a police Station in Pandacan, Manila on June 21, 2008.[25] As of August 2010, the case has been archived but not terminated.[29]

References

  1. ^ "On Overnight Bible Exposition, Preacher Encourages Guests to Be Spiritually Awake" CNN iReport January 26, 2012
  2. ^ "P1M reward offered for information on TV host's killers" GMA News TV. April 29, 2008
  3. ^ "SC upholds suspension on ‘Ang Dating Daan’". Tetch Torres. INQUIRER.net. April 30, 2009
  4. ^ "About Us". Ang Dating Daan. 1964-04-07. Retrieved 2010-06-01. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c d Elesterio, Fernando G. Three essays on Philippine religious culture (Monograph series). De La Salle University Press. 
  6. ^ Does a Woman have the Right to Preach in the Church of God?
  7. ^ Justyn. "Iglesia Ni YHWH at ni YHWSA HMSYH ('Ang Dating Daan')". thebereans.ne. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  8. ^ G.R. No. 137592
  9. ^ a b Castro, Levi M. (March 2000). "Special Report". Ang Dating Daan magazine (The Old Path) 58 (10): page 12.
  10. ^ a b "12,000 watch concert for Maguindanao dead" The Philippine Inquirer March 19, 2010
  11. ^ "Members Church of God International Worldwide Bible Exposition" Saipan Tribune
  12. ^ "Daniel Razon's second album out" Philippine Star August 21, 2009
  13. ^ "Spring Films promises new season in Philippine cinema" Manila Bulletin August 21, 2009
  14. ^ PBA meets Hoopsters Philippine Star (Aug 1)
  15. ^ Dunong Gulong - Hataw Balita News (12-02-2010)
  16. ^ "DepEd launches Dunong-Gulong (Mobile School)" Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines
  17. ^ "DepEd introduces mobile school to lighten illiteracy problem"
  18. ^ "DepEd to launch mobile school project" Manila Bulletin
  19. ^ "DepEd launches mobile school called 'Dunong-Gulong'" PNM
  20. ^ Malou, Mangahas; Avigail M. Olarte (April 2002). "Iglesia ni Cristo: A Most Powerful Union". Mala. Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  21. ^ "CA junks evangelist's plea to stop libel case". The Manila Times Internet Edition. Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  22. ^ INC against free press? at the Wayback Machine (archived May 3, 2008)
  23. ^ CHR pasok kay Bro. Eli" Pilipino Star Ngayon (Tagalog) - May 27, 2005
  24. ^ Torres, Tetch (November 10, 2005). "Gonzalez orders: Put evangelist Soriano on watchlist". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  25. ^ a b Lopez, Allison (2008-06-21). "Dating Daan's Ely Soriano posts bail". Philippine Daily Inquirer (The INQUIRER Company). Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  26. ^ a b c DOJ charges evangelist Eli Soriano with rape (GMANews)
  27. ^ "tiwalag-sa-ang-dating-daan"
  28. ^ manilastandardtoday.com, ‘Dating Daan’ leader charged with sodomy
  29. ^ [1]

External links