Aquino: Gov’t, Iglesia ni Cristo had an understanding
“Nagkaunawaan (There was an understanding).” That was how President Benigno Aquino III described the talks between the government and the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) following the latter’s four-day protest in Metro Manila last week.
During a forum with The Inquirer on Tuesday, Aquino said that while he had not been able to talk to INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo, liaisons had allowed them to communicate with each other.
He said he also sent Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to share with the INC the government’s position and to “assure that everybody’s rights will be protected.”
“‘Nagkaunawaan’ I think represents clearly what was achieved,” Aquino told Inquirer editors, columnists and reporters.
The President revealed that the government and the INC sought to “clarify each other’s position” about “groups out to create divisions” and “exploit” the protest.
Asked about the supposed groups exploiting the INC, Aquino said there were a number of personalities at the protests that were not members of the sect. He said these were people “identified with various groups that are opposed to [him] even before [he] started in office.”
In August 27, INC members gathered outside the Department of Justice office in Manila to protest Secretary Leila de Lima’s alleged bias. The sect that dictates on its members on who to vote during elections said the separation of the Church and the State should be respected.
The group also claimed that De Lima was prioritizing the illegal detention case filed by expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr.
But Aquino said the case filed by Samson should “stand or fall on its merits” and that it is the accuser who “has the burden of proof.”
By August 28, the INC protests reached Edsa. A couple of days later, the crowed had swelled to around 20,000.
On August 31, however, INC leaders called off the protests, which have reached different parts of the country. They claimed that they had reached an agreement with the government but Malacañang said there was no agreement. CB
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