WITH members of the religious group Iglesia ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ) officially ending their five-day protest actions on EDSA and Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila) on Monday, efforts to bring back normalcy to roads that were blocked by the protesters are now underway, a ranking government official said on Monday.
Protest actions of the INC started last Thursday in front of the Department of Justice compound on Padre Faura Street in Ermita, Manila, to call attention to alleged interference of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in the internal affairs of the religious sect.
They were moved to EDSA and Shaw Boulevard by organizers on Friday night, causing a massive traffic jam at the busy intersection and stranding thousands of commuters.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd also on Monday told reporters in Camp Crame–the main headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP)–in Quezon City that he will lead efforts to bring back normalcy to Metro Manila streets.
The Interior secretary hailed the Metro Manila Development Authority and local and barangay (village) officials for their role in keeping a tight watch on the INC protest actions.
“There were many who wanted to exploit the protest for their personal ends. Mahalagang naging mahinahon ang lahat para maiwasang may masaktan kung magkaroon ng kaguluhan [It is important that everyone stays calm in order to avoid violence and casualties in case something bad happens],” Roxas said.
He added that dialogues between the government and INC officials in the past days had cleared misunderstandings.
Lifting of the INC protest actions saw the PNP downgrading alert status of all police units in Metro Manila and even those in Camp Crame-based offices effective at 12 noon on Monday.
At the same time, PNP spokesman and Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said no untoward incident happened during the five-day rally of the INC members.
The PNP spokesman added that they are studying implementation of a “management plan” they can use in case similar incidents arise in the future.
Mayor said the PNP would continue monitoring thousands of members of the INC who are now heading home to Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and Isabela.