HUNDREDS of thousands of members of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) took to the streets in Manila on Saturday in a charity walk to raise funds for survivors of the country’s deadliest typhoon.
Members of the INC poured into Roxas Blvd. in response to the politically influential sect’s appeal to help compatriots caught up by Super Typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught.
All those taking part bought special white t-shirts, costing P250 to wear during the march, with all proceeds from sales of the garment being donated to help those in need, pensioner Laodiseo Santos, 78, told Agence France-Presse.
“I paid for this T-shirt to help our countrymen rebuild their homes . . . Some of our wealthier members purchased in bulk,” he said.
The retired cashier, his five grown-up sons and daughters as well as several grandchildren completed a three-kilometer walk in late morning.
Police estimated the crowd at about 200,000, though the figure could not be independently confirmed.
Yolanda tore across 171 towns and cities in central Visayas on November 8 last year, killing at least 6,200 people and leaving nearly 2,000 others missing, according to an official count.
The typhoon, one of the strongest ever to hit land, also left more than four million people homeless.
Many of them are still living in tents and other temporary shelters supplied by an international humanitarian effort led by the United Nations.
“This is an organized march, and there have been no untoward incidents,” said Chief Insp. Alejandro Yanquiling, a senior Manila police officer who oversaw security for the event.
The INC has at least three million members in the largely Catholic nation of 100 million.
The conservative sect is courted by politicians because its members tend to vote as a block.