Manalo asks Iglesia ni Cristo members to follow church leadership
BOCAUE, Bulacan—-The Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) concluded its two-day event celebrating the church’s 101st anniversary behind closed doors on Sunday, amid a leadership scandal rocking the church.
Bro. Eduardo Manalo, INC executive minister, led close to a million church members in a Sunday morning worship, an INC member from Bulacan who attended the event said.
Reporters were barred from entering the INC-owned Ciudad de Victoria, where the event was held.
The INC source did not respond when asked if Manalo discussed the controversy surrounding the expulsion of his mother and brother for their supposed part in an alleged attempt to grab power and sow disunity within the church.
But the source said Manalo’s key message to INC members was to comply with the teachings of the church: “Ang topic e puspusang pagsunod sa pamamahala para maligtas (The topic was for INC members to strictly follow the church’s leadership and rules in order to be saved).”
The controversy has not discouraged some politicians from courting the church’s support as the 2016 national elections approach.
Tarpaulin streamers had been put up by Bulacan officials along roads leading to the Philippine Arena and Philippine Sports Stadium inside Ciudad de Victoria, which hosted the church’s Unity Games to commemorate INC’s 101st founding anniversary.
The Unity Games were held ahead of the church’s foundation day today (Monday, July 27). This year, the games would also conclude INC’s year-long centennial activities started in July last year.
One of the more prominent tarpaulin streamers greets INC on its anniversary and features photographs of 20 Bulacan mayors.
The mayors belong to the League of Municipalities of the Philippines chapter in Bulacan.
Pandi Mayor Enrico Roque, LMP Bulacan president, said the tarpaulin was put up to express their continuing friendship with and respect for INC, partly to address a report that a Bulacan mayor had complained to church leaders that an INC minister had tried to extort money from the official.
“We wanted to say we are in complete support of the INC,” Roque said in a text message.
None of the mayors reached by the INQUIRER would reveal the identity of the complaining mayor.
Tarpaulin streamers were also put up at the Bulacan capitol grounds and streets along Malolos City, featuring Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando and provincial board members.
Officials in Meycauayan City and the towns of Calumpit and Sta. Maria also put up tarpaulins in their areas while other mayors placed their messages and greetings for INC in weekly newspapers.
The tarpaulins were in full view of motorists who were trapped in a gridlock along the northbound section of the North Luzon Expressway on Saturday night and Sunday, as more INC members drove to Bocaue.
As shown by INC car passes on vehicles that entered Ciudad de Victoria, the Unity Games also drew delegates from the different provinces in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
Since Saturday, vehicles drove through the gates carrying delegates from INC churches in China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Africa, Europe and the United States.
Church leaders at the gate informed the INQUIRER that the Unity Games were conceived by Manalo himself and was launched four years ago.
The INC said it believed that sports activities “develop discipline, responsibility, teamwork, and perseverance.”
But the games “aim higher” by using sports to “foster Biblical teachings and church unity.”
On Sunday morning, however, the volume of vehicles and the number of people entering the venue became unmanageable when INC delegates began parking outside the facility and along NLEx.
The Philippine Arena has a seating capacity of 55,000, while the Philippine Sports Stadium, where the games were held, can accommodate 25,000 people.
As early as 6 a.m., vehicles trapped in a three-hour gridlock stretched from Valenzuela City to the Bocaue toll gate.
At one point, parked vehicles almost closed all four northbound lanes of the expresswat.
The Bulacan police and personnel of the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), on Sunday afternoon, had been busy apprehending drivers and clearing and towing illegally parked vehicles to free up traffic flow to northern Luzon.
Rodrigo Franco, MNTC president and chief operating officer, said the company also opened two southbound lanes to help free up the northbound gridlock.
Franco said MNTC did not allow INC members to park along NLEx.
Chief Supt. Ronald Santos, Central Luzon police director, sent 500 policemen to help manage traffic in the area.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) also sent its personnel here to help ease traffic flow.
Authorities were expecting heavy traffic in the area until Sunday night.
The gridlock was similar to the traffic congestion that took place last year when the INC celebrated its centennial by inaugurating the Philippine Arena and the Philippine Sports Stadium.
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