Iglesia ni Cristo members show no signs of stopping protest vs De Lima
Video by RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.net
The protest of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) members near the Department of Justice (DOJ) compound continues with no signs of stopping any time soon.
The number of protesters has increased to 3,000 on Friday, authorities said, with figures still expected to balloon as INC members from nearby provinces are also set to join the vigil.
Major Rogelio Gabad of the Manila Police District told INQUIRER.net that as of 12 noon, the number of INC protesters has already exceeded yesterday’s headcount, which was set at around 2,000.
Gabad said around 100 policemen from MPD have been deployed around the vicinity to ensure peace and order throughout the INC vigil, which is expected to last until Saturday or on Monday.
Gabad said 24-hour security will not be an issue as policemen work through shifts.
Gabad also said the situation in the area has been “generally peaceful” since Thursday as no untoward incidents were recorded.
Three security guards from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), however, were arrested early Friday for allegedly pointing a gun at the protesters.
He added that traffic along Taft Avenue was relatively moderate as in ordinary days, as only the stretch of Padre Faura has been closed to motorists since Thursday noon.
But jeepney driver Danny Gatmaitan said the INC could have been more considerate in staging their protest, noting that the closure of Padre Faura congested the main road and even alternate routes.
“Sana lang inisip muna nila yung perwisyo lalo na sa aming mga drivers saka sa pasahero na din,” Gatmaitan said.
(I just they thought of the burden they would be imposing on the drivers and our passengers.)
A UV Express van driver who refused to be named added that Padre Faura’s closure contributed to the congestion of other streets along Taft Avenue, which drivers like him use as “backdoors” or shortcuts during heavy traffic.
A program is still ongoing at the small stage set up in front of the DOJ. Monitors were also placed along Padre Faudra for INC members who cannot see the stage from afar.
The atmosphere is festive as INC members are being treated to song and dance performances by their fellow brothers and sisters.
Documentary and music videos of INC are also being shown.
‘Until the end’
INC members, some of whom are holding placards calling for the separation of church and state, are shouting “Mabuhay ang Iglesia Ni Cristo” and “Igalang ang pananampalataya” in unison.
The protesters were seen eating their lunch and taking a nap on sidewalks and waiting sheds. Some even brought sleeping tents and mats.
INC member Jenice Agulto, who arrived from Cavite with her family and friends this morning, said they are planning to stay until Monday.
“Kaninang 11 a.m. lang kami pero dito na kami mag-o-overnight baka hanggang Lunes (We have been here starting 11 a.m., but we plan on staying maybe until Monday),” Agulto said, adding that there was no official advisory from the leadership on until when the vigil will last.
Mary Altraso, who also came from Cavite, said they will stay “until the end.”
“Dito lang kami hanggang sa huli (We’ll be here until the end),” she said.
Altraso added that members who arrived Thursday were from Metro Manila alone, while those who arrived Friday hailed from the Calabarzon region.
“Naniniwala ba kayo sa forever? Ako oo. (Do you believe in forever? I do.) INC forever!” the program host said.
Rain started to pour in Padre Faura as of 4 p.m., but INC members said it will not stop them from fighting for what they believe in.
“Hindi hadlang ang ulan, tuluy-tuloy ang laban. Atin ang tagumpay (The rain won’t stop us, the fight continues. Victory is ours)!” the host added.
Thousands of INC members flocked to the DOJ on Thursday, protesting Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s supposed meddling with internal affairs of the church.
Calling for a separation of church and state, INC members said De Lima should focus on “more important issues” such as the botched Mamasapano operation instead of “prioritizing” the illegal detention case filed by dismissed INC minister Isaias Samson against the church leadership. Yuji Vincent Gonzales/IDL
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