Police vow to negotiate for peaceful dispersal of Iglesia rally
The head of the Eastern Police District vowed on Sunday to continue negotiating for a “peaceful dispersal” of the Iglesia Ni Cristo rally along Edsa, should the Mandaluyong City government disallow the extension of the sect’s rally up to Monday (Aug. 31).
Senior Supt. Elmer Jamias, the Eastern Police District director, issued the statement, as thousands of INC members continued to mass up along Edsa even if their rally permit would expire by midnight of Sunday.
Earlier on Sunday, Jamias, said that with the permit issued to them by Mandaluyong City Hall on Saturday, there was no way the sect could bring 1 million members to the approved rally area at Edsa Crossing.
Jamias noted that the permit issued to the INC only covered a protest area of 1,200 square meters.
At four persons per square meter, Jamias said that the maximum capacity of the allowed protest area could accommodate only 4,800 persons.
But at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, in an apparent challenge to Jamias’ statement, members of the INC reached 4,500 individuals, with some members standing along the stretch of the northbound lane of Edsa.
Earlier, Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview that he had not received “personally” a request from the INC to extend their rally permit.
Abalos said he’d be at the rally site at around 8 p.m. on Sunday, to ensure the sect abide by the expiration of their rally permit Sunday night.
Asked if City Hall would allow an extension of the rally permit, Abalos said “we’ll see.”
However, at around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, thousands of INC members walked toward Ortigas Avenue in an apparent show of force.
Jamias said they would “continue negotiations” for a peaceful dispersal should Mandaluyong disallow the extension of the rally and the group refuse to leave Edsa.
Some of the protesters who stayed overnight at Edsa slept in tents. A mobile phone charging station has also been set up in the protest area for the use of INC members, proof that the religious sect prepared to conduct the rally for a few more days.
After appearing onstage at the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) rally at Edsa on Sunday, broadcast journalist Anthony Taberna announced that he has temporarily left his two programs in his home station.
Taberna, an “active member” of the INC, posted Sunday afternoon on the photo-sharing site Instagram that he was taking a leave of absence from his ABS-CBN radio program “Dos Por Dos” and morning show “Umagang kay Ganda” following the issues surrounding the religious sect.
“As an active member of the Iglesia ni Cristo, I am in a situation wherein I may not be credible in discussing issues surrounding it,” Taberna said in Filipino. He added he would like to avoid a potential conflict of interest between his “religious belief and duty as a journalist.”
Taberna, who appeared onstage with wife Rossel at the INC rally at Edsa Crossing shortly past 1 p.m. said his company accepted his leave of absence, which started on Sunday and would last until the resolution of the INC issues.
In his brief appearance, the hard-hitting journalist said that they “weren’t forced” to go to the rally site.
“We’re all tired. We could’ve stayed in our homes but because we love Iglesia ni Cristo we will continue to fight for it,” he said.
The protest of INC members, which entered its fourth day on Sunday, stemmed from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s supposed “extraordinary attention” given to the illegal detention, harassment and coercion complaints filed by expelled minister Isaias Samson Jr. last Tuesday, against members of the INC governing council.
Taberna, Samson’s nephew, made no mention of his uncle during his short speech.
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