STORY OF ELISEO SORIANO AND HIS CHURCHES
PART 1 – PROLOGUE
In May of 1922, frustrated about not being ordained as a minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Teofilo Ora, Januario Ponce and Basilio Santiago gather some members of the INC and led a rebellion against its administration; they failed then to establish their own church named Iglesia Verdadero de Cristo and was registered in Bureau of Trade and Commerce but after several months, they changed their name to Iglesia ng Diyos kay Kristo Hesus. The same year Nicholas Perez became a member and preacher of this group after he was expelled from the INC for allegedly baptizing several people on Mabacao River, located at Maragondon, Cavite. He even sent pictures as a proof of the event but later turned out that the people on the picture was not baptized at all and was just there for a picnic.
In 1928, Nicholas Perez became its General Evangelist and soon seek the leadership of the group but was denied by Teofilo Ora. In 1931, Nicholas Perez with Avelino Santiago then separated and started their own group and they are known as Iglesia ng Diyos kay Cristo Hesus Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan. But some information from Eliseo Soriano himself came up that Nicholas Perez was already preaching this Church way back 1928 at Pulilan, Bulacan, this is still unclear since at this time Nicholas Perez is still with the Iglesia ng Diyos kay Kristo Hesus. Some other members of the Teofilo Ora led church, Iglesia ng Diyos kay Kristo Hesus also established and registered their own Churches. Ponciano Bungay established Iglesia Ni Cristo sa Ibabaw ng Bato in 1932 while Basilio Santiago established Church of God in Christ Jesus in 1949 and Salvador Payawal established Kabanal-banalang Iglesia Ng Diyos. But it was not until December 10, 1936, that the Church of Nicholas Perez, Iglesia ng Diyos kay Cristo Hesus Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan was officially registered to the Bureau of Commerce and Industry. But in 1954, Avelino Santiago, Nicholas Perez, co-founder of Iglesia ng Diyos kay Cristo Hesus Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan left the group and established his own church, Iglesia ng Diyos na Buhay kay Kristo Hesus.
PART 2 – SORIANO’S MEMBERSHIP
In 1934, Triunfo Soriano and Catalina Fernando was baptized and became a member of the Nicholas Perez led church, the Iglesia ng Diyos kay Cristo Hesus Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan, they are Eliseo F. Soriano’s parents. Eliseo F. Soriano was born on 1947 and was baptized on April 7, 1964, three (3) days after his 17th birthday as member of the Nicholas Perez led church. He studied the bible from Nicholas Perez and sometime in 1969, he received a title of Minister, making him the only minister in the Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan at that time; rumor says that he will become the successor of Nicholas Perez. Nicholas Perez died in 1975.
PART 3 – SORIANO’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
After the death of Nicholas Perez, Eliseo Soriano signed on July 11, 1975 the appointment of Levita Gugulan (a woman) to lead the Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan as the Church Presiding Minister. August 12, 1975, a month after Levita Gugulan’s appointment, he again signed a memorandum stating that anyone who opposes their Church administration will be suspended and expelled. Four (4) days after 5 members of their church, some preachers were suspended. The next year January 2, 1976, Eliseo Soriano was then appointed by Levita Gugulan as one of their church’s Board of Directors. They were fifteen (15) members of the Board. But on February 21, 1976, he was expelled together with sixteen (16) other members of the Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan for inciting rebellion inside their church and teaching doctrines contrary to their beliefs he was the one on top of the list. Eliseo Soriano states that he firmly believes that a woman has no place to lead a church, in which he contradicted since he’s one of the signatories of the appointment months earlier. He also claimed that he was not expelled but instead he voluntarily left his church. On March 10, 1977, Eliseo Soriano registered his own group thru the help of Fermin Calma. They called it the Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Saligan ng Katotohanan. This means that since February 1976 to March 1977 he was a colorum, and does not belong to any church organization. A year after, (1978) one of his members, Filomeno Hizon left him and separated his church in two (2) groups, Filomeno Hizon established the Mga Mananampalataya sa Iglesia ng Diyos Kay Kristo Hesus, Incorporated and was registered only on June 20, 1984 . While he registered a new Church name on December 31, 1977, it was called Church of God the Father in Christ Jesus the Pillar and Ground of Truth thru the help of Manoling Bacosa but was not able to use it.
PART 4 – SORIANO’S CHURCH/ES
It would look like that Eliseo Soriano just substituted Levita Gugulan’s Suhay to Saligan. So on July 16, 1979, a complaint was filed against the group of Eliseo Soriano by his former church leader, Levita Gugulan under SEC Case No. 1774 for using a similar church name, while the case is in progress he managed to register another church in January 20, 1980, "Ang mga Kaanib sa Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Saligan ng Katotohanan sa Bansang Pilipinas, Incorporated", SEC Reg. No. 92658. In May 4, 1988 Eliseo Soriano’s group lost the 1979 case and was ordered by the SEC to change the name of his church to another name not similar to any name already used, this decision was signed by the hearing office James Abugan. Eliseo Soriano’s group didn’t bother to appeal the case since he already registered a new one in 1980. In 1993, Levita Gugulan’s successor Maximino Nieto found out that Eliseo registered another church in 1980 with almost the same name again. Eliseo Soriano awared of this possibility registered another church, before Maximino Nieto’s group was able to file another complaint against him. It was December 15, 1993, when the Bayan ng Katotohanan Incorporated, SEC Reg. No. 93-005231 was registered with Eliseo Soriano as Presiding Minister and was refiled on December 17, 1993. The complaint was then filed by Maximino Nieto to the SEC office the following year in 1994 under SEC Case No. 94-4704, but again while the case still in progress Eliseo Soriano registered another church again and it was the Iglesia ni YHWH at ni YHWSA HMSYH, Inc, SEC Reg. No. 94-000703 in February 21, 1994. The 1994 Case against Eliseo Soriano’s church name was released on November 20, 1995. Eliseo Soriano’s group lost and was ordered again to change its church name not similar or identical to a name already in use, the decision was signed by the hearing office Ysobel Yasay Murillo. Still wanting the Church name that his mentor established, Eliseo Soriano’s filed an appeal on December 28, 1995 for the November 1995 decision of the 1994 case, but loses the case again after the Associate Justices in Court of Appeals, Manila; Cancio Garcia, Delillah Vidallon Magtolis and Marina Buzon denied his appeal on October 7, 1997. Appeal after appeal it was finalized in year 2001 by order of the Supreme Court of the Philippines to change its name. Eliseo Soriano don’t have any choice but to change its name and use the “Bayan ng Katotohanan, Inc.,” and the Iglesia ni YHWH at ni YHWSA HMSYH as their church name but still claim that they are still the Iglesia ng Dios that Nicholas Perez preaches. In January 13, 2004, he decided to register another church, Members Church of God International, Inc., SEC Reg. No. CN2004-00386. He also reserved three (3) more church names just to ensure that the dilemma won’t happen again; Mga Kaanib ng Ama at Panginoong Jesus sa Bansang Pilipinas Inc., Member Church of the Living God, and Iglesia ng mga Bunso.