Iglesia ni Cristo rally on second day at DOJ; De Lima working elsewhere
As thousands of protesters from the influential religious sect Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) gathered outside her office on Friday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was at work in another part of the Metro.
“I’m not at DOJ (Department of Justice) ’cause I’m here at the Palace in a meeting,” De Lima said in a text message yesterday when asked about the protest rally at the DOJ on Padre Faura Street, Malate, where INC members remain encamped to protest her alleged bias against the religious sect.
On its second straight day on Friday, the INC protest forced the closing of a major thoroughfare as protesters spilled into surrounding streets and stayed put despite the rains.
De Lima did not issue further comment on the continuing protests and whether she had ordered stricter security measures at the DOJ.
The Justice compound yesterday had more police officers deployed at the gate and inside its buildings, where ordinarily, only security guards kept watch. Media was barred from entering the main building as well, where the public ordinarily had access. The main building houses De Lima’s office.
Binay hearing postponed
The DOJ’s parking lot was nearly empty, as several employees were unable to report to work, according to personnel who were around yesterday.
The protest also prompted the DOJ to postpone yesterday morning’s scheduled hearing on suspended Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay’s libel complaint against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. The case stemmed from the latter’s allegations that the mayor had paid off two Court of Appeals magistrates to stop the first suspension order issued against him in April.
INC protesters started gathering at the DOJ’s gates on Thursday afternoon, just as De Lima celebrated her birthday. The justice chief was forced to use another exit after her car was mobbed as it attempted to leave the compound.
Armed with a city-approved permit, INC members trooped to De Lima’s office to complain about her alleged meddling in the sect’s internal affairs.
The protests followed the filing of charges of illegal detention, harassment, threats and coercion against the INC’s Sanggunian by expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. Samson, who filed the charges at the DOJ, said he, his wife and son were held under house arrest for a week in July by Sanggunian members on suspicion that he had been leading moves to expose supposed wrongdoings in the church.
De Lima said she was “just doing (her) job” in the course of handling the complaint. Criminal complaints are ordinarily filed in the DOJ.
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