1,000 INC members mass up at DOJ, slam De Lima meddling in church affairs
Chanting repetitive happy birthdays while booing Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, around 1,000 members of the religious sect Iglesia ni Cristo protested in front of the Department of Justice building on Thursday, after the INC received reports that the DOJ was poised to file in court charges of serious illegal detention against leaders of the INC.
Earlier, an excommunicated INC member, Isaias Samson Jr. filed a complaint of serious illegal detention against the INC leadership council for sending bodyguards that forcibly kept him and his family inside his own home for days. The INC leaders had accused Samson of writing a blog alleging widespread corruption in the church.
Holding placards, the protesters shouted De Lima should leave INC alone and divert the DOJ’s attention to more important issues such as the massacre of the 44 Special Action forces members in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in the hands of Moro rebels, on Jan. 25, 2015.
In unison, protesters demanded respect, freedom of religion, and respect for the separation of church and state, and shouted: “Wag niyong pakialaman ang Iglesia!” (Don’t meddle in the affairs of the Church!)
DOJ should stop interfering in issues of religion and their way of worship and organizing, they said.
“Justice for Mamamasapano,” they added.
A woman supporter even lectured the policemen, warning them that INC members would be unstoppable.
“We are following not the people but God’s orders. We may not know each other but we are united,” she said.
Members of INC started waiting for De Lima around 9 a.m., and started to increase in number by 3 p.m. More members would likely join the rally after their afternoon worship, a member who remained anonymous, said.
No leader, however, assumed responsibility for the rally, and spoke about the cause of their protest.
An INC member who refused to be quoted said they were instructed by their “leader” who “was not yet around” as of press time, not to talk to media. But the member said they were just following orders. More members would come later on Thursday night to continue the protest, he added.
ABS-CBN reporter Doris Bigornia, facing indignant protesters, was constantly booed and shooed and called “biased” for their network’s previous reports about the Iglesia ni Cristo fiasco.
Similarly, the policemen were once booed by sect members, asserting they were not causing commotion.
Later on in the afternoon, police said the crowd had swelled to 500.
An INC member who talked to Inquirer in condition of anonymity, said the warrant issued against two of their leaders led to Thursday’s protest.
“De Lima is completely blind to the issue and has nothing to do with it as it is an internal problem,” he said.
The government should instead focus on giving justice to those who lost their lives in the Mamasapano carnage, he added. The INC member pointed out that two of the SAF commandos who lost their lives in the carnage were INC members. (Jodee Agoncillo, Philippine Daily Inquirer)
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