EXPELLED Iglesia Ni Cristo member Rovic Canono and mistress Joanna Mariz Manuel were found guilty last week by a QC trial court of having “open sexual relations” despite the woman knowing Canono is married.
Canono came to public attention in 2016 after exposing supposed irregularities in the INC leadership.
Manuel was present at the promulgation while Canono is at large and has been a fugitive from justice. The criminal case was filed by Canono’s wife.
In a 13-page decision promulgated on October 14, Regional Trial Court Judge Analie Oga-Brual found the two to have entered into a “live-in” relationship and “engaged in sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances,” with a kasambahay witness testifying that Canono and Manuel, in their small studio-type condo, would allow the witness “to watch them doing their thing.”
Manuel’s defense that she was merely friends with Canono and co-member of Defenders, a group of former INC members, was not given credence by the court.
The court decision noted that “the prosecution has sufficiently proven the guilt of accused Joanna beyond reasonable doubt. It is undisputed that Canono was legally married at the time the crime was committed, as evidenced by the Certificate of Marriage presented in court. Although she denied knowing Rovic to be married, the court is not persuaded.”
Prior to his conviction for concubinage, Canono was arrested and detained in Camp Karingal on November 2016 for violation of Republic Act 9262, or the anti-violence against women and children act.
He was accused by his wife of causing emotional or psychological distress to her and their child, as well as causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule, or humiliation to both of them.
Court records further show that Canono and another expelled INC member, Lowell Menorca, were “best friends” and it was Menorca who referred the kasambahay-witness to Canono.
Menorca fled to Canada in 2016, followed by Canono a year later.
Menorca himself was an accused in several libel raps and an adultery case before secretly leaving for Canada.
The ex-INC member’s paramour, a certain AJ Lazo, was arrested in Cebu last June for failing to attend her arraignment before a Manila Court. Menorca, like Canono, is considered “at large” for his non-appearance in his court case.
Pressed for comment, the private prosecutor representing Canono’s wife’s said “Canono should have personally faced his charges in court instead of hiding. He unashamedly engaged in illicit sexual relationship with a woman who was left to defend herself. He left her at the first sign of trouble. That speaks volumes about the kind of person Canono is.”