INC apologizes for traffic jam caused by medical mission
MANILA, Philippines–Tens of thousands trooped Monday morning to several designated areas in the City of Manila where the Iglesia ni Cristo held an evangelical and outreach mission, causing traffic congestion in parts of the capital.
Brother Edwil Zabala, media liaison for Monday’s “Kabayan Ko, Kapatid Ko” (My Countrymen, My Brethren) apologized for the disturbance caused by the medical-dental mission and distribution of relief goods in Quiapo, Manila.
“We held the Kabayan Ko in response to requests coming from residents around Quiapo who, probably, either they were invited to previous Kabayan Ko activities or perhaps they have heard about it. Because this is not the first time,” Zabala told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
The INC’s minister of the gospel said the group had even conducted an outreach mission in Zamboanga during the height of the hostage crisis.
“Hindi lang na-publicize dahil magulo pa po nang panahong yun. Pero nanggaling na po doon (Zamboanga) ang ‘Lingap’ noong height po ng kaguluhan,” he said.
The Lingap-Pamamahayag is an evangelical and service-oriented mission under the Kabayan Ko project being carried out by the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation Inc., the charitable arm of Iglesia ni Cristo.
The Kabayan Ko, Kapatid Ko project was launched in Binondo, Manila, in April, combining the INC’s two major activities— mission to propagate the gospel (Pamamahayag) and the mission to help one’s fellowmen through the giving of relief packs and medical-dental services (Lingap sa Mamamayan [Aid to Humanity]).
Relief missions had also been conducted abroad such as in the aftermath of the quake in Japan in March 2011, Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey in October 2012, the floods in Bundaberg, Australia, early this year, and the series of tornadoes that happened in Oklahoma last June.
Since April 2013, there had been 19 such events held in different parts of the country where the attendance for each event vary from a few thousands to more than a million people, the INC statement said.
The INC was expecting 1 million to 1.5 million participants on Monday. The government suspended elementary and high school classes in Metro Manila in anticipation of the heavy traffic.
Ousted President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada welcomed the INC mission, saying it was “heaven sent” for the less fortunate Manileños.
“Nagbigay din ng relief goods to victims of calamities. Hulog ng langit. Very timely, because Manila has the highest incidence of poverty (in Metro Manila),” Estrada told the INQUIRER over the phone.
“Maraming nagra-rally dyan puro sigaw-sigaw lang. Eto nakakatulong sa mahihirap,” said Estrada.
Estrada laughed off rumors that this was a show of force for his pending disqualification case at the Supreme Court. “It’s nothing like that. Ni sa isip, hindi ko inisip yun.”
Monday’s mission was held simultaneously in six locations: Plaza del Carmen beside San Sebastian Church; Plaza Avelino on Nagtahan; Magallanes Drive in front of the Post Office; the flea market beside Quiapo Church; the area at the back of Far Eastern University; and beside Isetann at the corner of CM Recto Avenue and Quezon Boulevard.
The sites appear to form a circle around the Malacañang Palace.
“Distributed naman ang mga taong pumunta. Para i-surround ang Malacañang, walang pakay na ganun. Kung halimbawa man na ganun ang naging dating, that was inadvertent,” Zabala said.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago reportedly said politicians can only be fools if they don’t get the message behind Monday’s INC activity.
Zabala said: “Yung idea na show of force, again noong ginagawa naming ’to in 22 previous sites, walang ganoong issue. Siguro pilit na binibigyang kahulugan ng iba pero naninindigan po kami na walang ganoong layunin ang INC.”
He said this was the only earliest time the group can allot for the residents of Quiapo since the mission will go to San Francisco, California, on Oct. 19; to Pangasinan on Oct. 26 and then to Nueva Ecija afterwards.
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