The camp of 2016 presidential candidate Manuel Roxas 2nd had threatened the Iglesia Ni Cristo with a “Napoles”-and-“Enrile”-type of operations if the religious group does not support his candidacy, or if it does not at least stand neutral in next year’s polls, according to sources close to the second biggest Christian church in the country.
If the Iglesia refuses to do Roxas 2nd’s bidding as, in fact, it did, his camp calculated that the exposé of alleged massive corruption in the INC, and of a schism within, led by the former INC leader’s widow, would weaken its legitimacy to a point where its members would not follow its leadership’s endorsement of a presidential bet for 2016.
The illegal detention charges against practically the entire INC leadership, except for Eduardo Manalo, were a thinly veiled threat to put them all in jail if they did not follow Roxas 2nd’s orders.
No wonder the INC is in such a state of revolt never before seen in its 101 years of existence.
It was a desperate move on the part of Roxas’ strategists since all their surveys showed that he would most definitely lose in the 2016 elections, as President Aquino himself actually had concluded.
They thought that the INC’s bloc vote for Roxas, estimated at 1.4 million, or more than half its membership, would give him a fighting chance, or at least provide them with the smokescreen for cheating.
But despite Roxas’ intense lobbying, the INC leadership had sent word that it could not support his candidacy in 2016. This was because the INC felt that Roxas was a failure in the two Cabinet posts he held and that the Aquino Administration — which it supported in 2010 — had not delivered on its promises. The INC even specifically pointed out the government’s failure to bring justice to the Special Action Force commandos massacred at Mamasapano, Maguindanao, two of whom were INC members.
Aquino and Roxas, however, have shot themselves in the foot by grossly underestimating the power of the INC to mobilize thousands of warm bodies in the streets to launch a siege against the Aquino government.
Roxas’ camp may have even forgotten that the INC has a popular TV and radio broadcasting network — a powerful force in mass political mobilization and in coup d’etats. The INC’s TV station Net 25 is even more professionally run and has a stronger TV signal than the government’s NBN station, which pathetically has been totally inutile in countering Net 25.
INC head Manalo had quickly rallied the Church’s top leaders as nobody else had joined the tiny break-away group, which seems to have vanished after its first and last YouTube propaganda push several weeks ago.
The Catholic backlash against the INC’s political action is inconsequential, as the Catholic Church does not have command votes. Roxas 2nd has made the INC his mortal enemy, which feels its survival is at stake. The INC would likely even horse-trade its clout in local elections to ensure a tsunami of votes against the Yellow Candidate.
While the INC almost always in the past elections voted as a bloc, this would be the first time that it would actively campaign against a presidential candidate.
It’s Hosea 8:10, the source claimed: “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.”
“Nearly all political leaders in the post-war era, except Cory Aquino, respected the voting power of the INC and honored it as a religious organization just as they did the Catholic Church’s Princes,” the source close to the INC said. “It’s only this President and Roxas who had the gall to threaten and actually attack it.”
What the intellectually unsophisticated INC leaders really mean when they say, “respect the separation of church and state” is this: That the administration cannot tell the INC who to vote for. This is what its members in the streets mouthing that term think it means.
The INC so far has focused its attack on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, as they said they had concrete proof of her role in the planned charges against their group.
It hasn’t categorically called for Aquino’s resignation, as this would violate their dogma of being supportive of a duly constituted government. But this has been a subterfuge on their part, as neither did INC call for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ouster in April 2001, even if its members provided much of the warm bodies for the so-called EDSA Tres uprising against the Administration.
Not Aquino 3rd but Roxas 2nd
Neither have the INC protesters openly condemned Aquino, as its leaders believe that it is Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd or his strategists who thought of the plan to threaten the INC or at least mar its reputation.
A source claimed that Cristina (“Tenny”) Manalo, widow of the late Eraño Manalo who had headed the church until 2009, is a good friend of Judith Araneta-Roxas, Roxas 2nd’s mother.
It was Mrs. Manalo, with her son Felix Nathaniel “Angel,” who posted in mid-July this year on YouTube pleas for help, claiming their lives were being threatened and that they were illegally detained for raising allegations of corruption in the INC hierarchy, now led by her eldest son Eduardo.
The swift deployment of police and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) agents to Angel’s compound was viewed by the INC as a move ordered by Roxas, since he headed the Philippine National Police, and since his factotum Liberal Party director general Chito Gascon assumed chairmanship of the CHR only in June.
The trigger that pushed the INC to go all out against the government was the filing by Isaiah Samson, a former editor of its internal newspaper Pasugo, of illegal detention charges against eight ministers who made up Manalo’s leadership core, including Glicerio Santos Jr., head of the Sanggunian, the highest administrative council of the INC.
“It’s like filing criminal charges, non-bailable, against the Liberal Party’s entire executive committee,” the source said. “Do you think Samson has the gall or the funds to take on the INC?” “Someone is pulling the strings, just as someone was pulling the strings of Benhur Luy, who fingered mostly opposition leaders as having been involved in the pork-barrel scam.” “Mrs. Manalo and Angel, on the other hand, seem to have disappeared after their Youtube episode.”
It was Justice Secretary de Lima who personally received the complaint, even arranging a media event out of it. She was about to have it pursued by her hand-picked prosecutors in a trial court until the INC laid siege to her offices in Padre Faura.
Three yellow tactics
The attack against the INC has all of three distinctive yellow tactics used by Aquino against his perceived enemies in the past five years. These are as follows:
First, file illegal detention charges, to put them immediately in jail. It was the illegal detention charge – which is non-bailable – against Janet Napoles that served as the opening salvo for de Lima’s National Bureau of Investigation’s campaign on the pork-barrel scam that eventually put three once powerful opposition senators to jail. It was the illegal detention charge that put Napoles in jail, and for which she was convicted for 40 years – not the plunder cases against her. Tycoon Roberto Ongpin – who the Aquino operatives thought they could force to spill the beans against former president Arroyo and her husband – was charged with illegal detention filed by a former employee.
Second, portray them as corrupt. The three opposition senators were jailed after they were portrayed as big-time grafters, and it is the same media tack that is now being lodged against the INC, that Manalo and his leaders were skimming off this and that, that the INC leader had a billion-peso house in Forbes Park, that their overseas foundations were raking it all in.
Third, deploy the yellow social media, and ABS-CBN, specially. The former are the same “netizens” and trolls disguised as netizens, who had been busy demonizing Binay, and who now have been ordered to demonize Manalo and the INC “fanatics.” You know them – check their FB accounts, which post practically nothing else but vitriol against their targets. Watch ABS-CBN’s handling of the INC demonstrations, as it echoes Roxas’ line that the INC demonstrations are creating huge traffic jams along EDSA. It isn’t beyond Aquino and Roxas’ camp to even help worsen the traffic to create a backlash against the INC.
An online-only paper – the same outfit that opened the character assassination campaign against Corona in his impeachment trial by alleging, quite falsely, that he manufactured his Ph.D. from the UST – all of a sudden had an in-depth investigative series on the INC’s overseas operations and foundations. That would have needed at least a month or two in research on the secretive church that has very little data posted on the internet.
Aquino and Roxas wrecked the institutions of the Supreme Court and the Congress, and kept in jail a former president on the flimsiest of evidence.
So they thought it would be a walk in the park to wreck a small religious sect, which isn’t even named in the Constitution.
They will instead reap the whirlwind.
Just as I was about to finish up this column and email it to my editors, I opened my Facebook account and found a very enlightening post by my old friend, veteran journalist Manny Mogato, who was in the field and interviewed INC demonstrators at EDSA.
Manny is definitely not pro-INC, and his staunchly Catholic mindset even made him point out in his post that the INC “does not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ,” as if to warn his readers that this people are heretics.
Still, the statements he got from the demonstrators, which he posted on his FB, confirmed the points I presented above, although Manny expresses amazement over them:
“Ibinoto pa naman namin siya nung 2010, ngayon gusto niyang pagwatak-watakin ang INC.” (We voted for him in 2010, but now he wants to tear INC apart as an organization.)
“Hindi kami naniniwalang si de Lima lang yan, mayroon pang mas makapangyarihan na nasa likod ng kaso ni Isaiah Samson sa mga taga-pangasiwa namin. Ginamit lang ang DoJ” (We don’t believe it is just de Lima acting. There is a more powerful figure behind Samson. He’s just using the DOJ.”
“Bakit wala pang nakakasuhan sa Mamasapano, samantalang bago lang itong kaso ni Samson? May short-cut atang nangyayari.” (Why has no one been charged over the Mamasapano massacre, while Samson’s case is just very new, yet De Lima has acted on it. There seems to be a short-cut going on here.)
And as is the main point of this article:
“Gusto nilang masira ang aming pagkakaisa para masabi nilang natalo ang sinuportahan namin sa election, kasi hindi na kami solid. Gusto nilang pilitin kami na suportahan ang manok nila.” (They want to wreck our unity, so they could later claim the candidate we supported lost because we were no longer a solid bloc. They are forcing us to support their candidate [Roxas, in the 2016 presidential elections.)
Contrary to what the Yellow Horde has been claiming, the INC demonstrators certainly know why they are at EDSA, and what they are fighting for.
FB: Bobi Tiglao