The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) mobilized 1,000 of its members to carry out a massive relief operation that benefited close to 100,000 people affected by the siege in Marawi City.
On Tuesday, the INC distributed rice, canned goods and coffee to families staying in various evacuation centers in Mindanao as part of its Lingap outreach program.
INC General Auditor Glicerio B. Santos Jr. said a thousand of its members packed, stored, loaded and distributed the relief goods in five venues in Iligan City and 11 sites in Balo-I, Lanao del Norte province. Members of the Philippine National Police and the armed forces helped to ensure that the distribution of relief goods was orderly and peaceful.
Local leaders and residents said it was the first large-scale distribution of relief goods done by a religious group in the area.
“It was a quick and simple matter of deciding within the Church, through the guidance and leadership of Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo, that we had to do something concrete to help fellow Filipinos who are affected and displaced by the Marawi fighting. Religion and political beliefs were not an issue here. What’s important is assisting people in dire need.” Santos said.
The INC has for the last several years expanded its Lingap sa Mamamayan livelihood and assistance programs for church members and non-members alike.
“It’s usually livelihood programs we engage in, but in situations like in Marawi or when disasters and natural calamities occur in certain parts of the country, we shift our efforts at providing immediate material assistance in the form of essentials such as food and medicine. That way, we are able to offer help quicker to those whose needs are urgent,” Santos added.
He said the INC will continue to give assistance, this time to cover other evacuation centers housing Marawi evacuees. There are around 35 designated evacuation centers scattered in Lanao and Misamis Oriental.