Distribution of goods in INC event turns into chaos
MANILA, Philippines — The distribution of “goodwill bags,” which is part of the medical and charity mission of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), turned chaotic Monday night as people rushed and fought over the relief packs being given away by the influential religious sect.
Around 7:30 p.m., control over the crowd broke down as hundreds of people pushed and shoved against each other to get a bag of relief goods being distributed at the Liwasang Bonifacio in front of the Philippine Post Office.
Many of those who joined in the rush of people were women, children, and the elderly.
Chief Superintendent Mannan Muarip, commanding officer of the police force posted at the Liwasang Bonifacio, said the police did not lack in crowd control and that the number of people was just overwhelming.
“The number of people who came is just too many,” Muarip said.
“It was also getting late so people thought that they will not be able to get any of the relief goods being given [away] by the INC that’s why they reacted that way,” he said.
The commotion began around 5:30 p.m. when a deluge of people tried to push through to get ahead of the long line to the tent where the relief goods were being distributed.
Event marshalls tried to push back the large crowd and called on them to calm down because there were still enough goods for everybody.
Police then came in to assist in re-establishing an orderly line but could not gain control as those who had already received a bag of goods came back in line again to get some more.
At least three people, two adult females and one teen-aged girl, were seen being taken out of the densely packed crowd after they had collapsed. Police were left to attend to them as no medical personnel could be seen in the area.
Security personnel also had to take out of the crowd children and infants that were brought along by their parents to prevent them from being hurt.
“Perhaps that is unavoidable because many of the people who came here are from depressed areas and they saw it as their chance to get their food so they seized the opportunity and came [back] again and again,” Muarip said.
He admitted that people who kept coming back could have been a factor why the crowd went out of control but added that “in general it was okay.”
“We managed to fix [the crowd] so after they saw that there were no more goods left, they dispersed voluntarily,” Muarip said.
Aside from Liwasang Bonifacio, other distribution centers were also set up on Claro M. Recto Avenue and beside the Quiapo Church in Manila for the INC’s series of evangelical missions.
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