QUESTIONS ARISE AS IGLESIA ENDS EDSA SIEGE

What was the deal?

24
PARTY’S OVER Flag-waiving members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo who joined the EDSA-Shaw Boulevard siege celebrate after their leaders announced an end to their protest.  PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

PARTY’S OVER Flag-waiving members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo who joined the EDSA-Shaw Boulevard siege celebrate after their leaders announced an end to their protest.
PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

Questions and conspiracy theories were in the air after an official of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ) announced on Monday that the religious group is ending its protest at the EDSA-Shaw Boulevard intersection in Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila) after a “successful” holding of talks between the church’s leaders and government officials.
INC general evangelist Bienvenido Santiago made the announcement over church-owned television channel Net 25.

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“Nais po naming ipabatid sa inyong lahat na nagkausap na po ang panig ng Iglesia at ang panig pamahalaan. At sa pag-uusap na ito ay nagkapaliwanagan na po ang dalawang panig. Kaya payapa na po ang lahat [We would like to tell you all that representatives of the Iglesia and the government have met and had clarified the issues. All is now well],” Santiago said.

INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said he was not privy to what was discussed in the meeting between the government panel led by no less than President Benigno Aquino 3rd and a representative of the INC that was held Sunday evening until past midnight.

Malacañang later in the day said there was no deal forged.

“There was no deal struck, as some insinuate. The talks gave both sides an opportunity to clarify issues and concerns,” Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said in a brief statement.

Critics of the Aquino administration, however, did not take Valte’s statement hook, line and sinker.

“The people are interested in the deal, if any, struck by the Aquino government and the influential INC in relation to the criminal case filed versus leaders of the group. Were there concessions given by Aquino to the INC? Did it involve Mar Roxas and the 2016 elections?
What were the terms agreed upon? Government owes the public at least an explanation,” Renato Reyes Jr., secretary-general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said in a statement.

Mar is Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, the ruling Liberal Party’s standard-bearer in the 2016 elections.

Malacanang spokesman Edwin Lacierda issued a separate statement on the matter, hinting that a “long-term solution” and “goodwill” have caused the INC members who gathered on EDSA to voluntarily disperse.

“This was an important consideration for the government: Just as it was important to protect the rights of all, ensure public safety, and minimize opportunities for sowing mayhem, we knew that a truly long-term solution involved engendering an atmosphere of dialogue, which will result in deescalating the situation that created tensions in the first place,” the Palace official said.

Lacierda added that the national government had to step in to immediately defuse tensions because some sectors have started to manipulate the situation.

“We were resolved not to inflame passions, which could have given an opening to those with selfish agendas to further exacerbate conflict. Diplomacy therefore was an important tool in avoiding unintended consequences,” he explained.

Lacierda said the conflict was resolved “through goodwill and the convergence of efforts.”
“The rule of law has been upheld. We appreciate the INC leadership’s directives for the withdrawal of their members from their gathering sites. We are thankful that no serious injuries came about these past few days, and that the public can now prepare to go to work and to school tomorrow as the long weekend draws to a close,” he added.

Lawyers for expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr., who had filed illegal detention charges against the members of the INC Sanggunian (Council of Leaders), called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd as well as Roxas to disclose to the public the deal forged with the INC.

In a statement, lawyers Trixie Cruz-Angeles and Ahmed Paglinawan asked about the nature of the alleged agreement, and why their client, “who had unintentionally set off these events by filing his case,” was not included in it.

“Tell us whether or not you’ve sold our client down the river… you need to disclose this to us. A criminal case is not a political pawn,” they said.

The lawyers also asked the government to “guarantee our client a fair hearing at preliminary investigation,” saying that finding the case filed by Samson to have no probable cause is now “a very real possibility.”

They said the announcement made the INC on the matter is a way for them “to make the public feel that they had flexed their muscle and the government has responded in a manner favorable to them.”

Malacanang was mum on whether such a deal involved either the dropping of charges against the INC ministers or the group supporting Roxas, the administration party’s presidential bet in next year’s polls.

Aquino convened senior officials, including some members of the Cabinet, police and military officials, in an emergency meeting at the President’s official residence in Malacañang Park on Sunday night and met with an INC representative, Erano “Erdz” Codera, the church’s political liaison officer.

Also in the meeting were Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and National Police Director-General Ricardo Marquez.

INC members initially massed up in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) compound along Padre Faura Street (Manila) last Thursday and held an overnight vigil. They were protesting the state’s alleged medding in the church’s internal affairs when de Lima ordered an investigation of the alleged kidnapping and detention of Samson.

On Friday night, the protesters marched to EDSA-Shaw Boulevard intersection and linked up with groups that assembled in staging areas at SM Megamall and Our Lady of EDSA Shrine.

The protesters were reinforced by other church members who were bused in from nearby provinces.

The protest caused a massive traffic jam that has angered motorists and commuters and triggered verbal skirmishes in the social media.

Police estimated the crowd to have swelled to over 15,000 before President Aquino called the meeting.

Roxas said there were people who wanted to take advantage of the INC protest for their personal motives

Roxas in a statement indicated that sobriety prevailed and prevented anybody from getting hurt.

Military officials heaved a sigh of relief that the INC rally did not swell because if it did, some “opportunists” could have taken advantage of the situation and create a violent scenario like detonating a bom.

“Sa amin naman kasi, yun ang cause of apprehension lang naming. Baka may mga taong gustong mag-take advantage ng situation. Na kasi would you imagine kung may nagpasabog dun e di sakit ng ulo namin dun [On our part, that is the cause of apprehension. Some people may take advantage of the situation. Just imagine if someone lobbed explosives on the crowd, it would be a big headache for us],” said a military officer who was among those assigned to “infiltrate” the crowd.

While the military, he said, has not received any information on terrorists or the Left sabotaging the rally, he made it sure that any terror attack would not be carried out.

“That’s what we want to contain. Remember the Plaza Miranda bombing. If similar situation occurred [in the rally], the government will always be the one to be blamed. What we were trying to prevent is that the peaceful rally would turn violent,” he pointed out.

Another military official described the rally as a “defense mechanism” of the INC because it was afraid of the implication of the serious illegal detention charges against its leaders.

Poe dragged
Pre-election survey frontrunner Sen. Grace Poe was dragged into the INC controversy after Samson’s lawyers said she might have violated the law when she urged the Justice department to just focus on other cases, instead of on the criminal complaints filed against officials and members of the INC.

Poe had said the department should give attention to other cases like the Mamasapano incident.

Lawyer Trixie Angeles said Poe’s statement last Friday could constitute a criminal offense under Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Poe’s chief-of-staff immediately issued a statement to counter the allegation.

“Sen. Poe did not persuade, induce or influence Secretary de Lima to commit any violation of the law,” Nelson Victorino said in a statement.

“In her statements, she did not even suggest that Secretary de Lima stop the investigation of the complaint against INC personalities,” he added.

“It is an act of graft if someone asks the [Justice department] not to act on a criminal complaint,” Angeles said in a statement.

She cited Section 3 (a) of the law that considers as a crime any act of “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.”

Angeles said instead of asking the Department of Justice to make a priority other cases over the INC complaints, Poe should have called for respect for the rule of law and legal processes.

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24 Comments

  1. De Lima broke protocol: when a case is in the preliminary investigation stage, only prosecutors up to the Prosecutor-General are the ones in charge.
    Section 2, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, states that officials authorized to conduct preliminary investigations are: “(a) Provincial of City Prosecutors and their assistants; (b) Judges of the Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts; National and Regional State Prosecutors; and Other officers as may be authorized by law.” The DOJ chief cannot interfere in a case during preliminary investigation since the process will reach the Office of the Secretary of Justice when a petition for review of the case is filed.

  2. Eto na nmn. Nakipagdeal uli this time si AbNoy at mga alipores nya sa INC. Is the birth of INCBL (Iglesia ni Cristo Basic Law) in the making??? Nakakatakot ang administrasyong ito kapag nakikipagdeal eh… kala ko walang kinatatakutan ang rehimen na ito? Bahag pala buntot sa INC.

    • Pinoy must deal because INC is creating a very big problem. You should have watched the INC television televise . This people should be charge of creating unrest. Speaker after speaker make this government look corrupt this not a case of separation of church and state. This is a case for the accuse not to be imprison for involuntary detension. Of course INC won this debacle. Who lost, the justice system lost, grace poe, binay escudero et al.

    • what a shame. nobody now believes what the govt is sharing with regards to the reason of non-continuance of inc protest. the sad thing is, this administration had shown it’s weakness against a certain religious group. inc is too small compared to china…hehehe

  3. Sa wakas ay lumabas din ang katotohanan kung anong klasing pinbuno si ABNOY. Ibebenta niya ang bayan alang-alang sa personal na kapakanan. Ang Idolo kong si Poe. kay bagobago lang niya sa larangan ng politica, pinapakita na niya na siya’s parang lumang politico, TRAPO at EPAL. Pinatunayan nilang takot sila sa INC, dahil sa boto.

    • This is a wake up call. Senator grace poe must not be elected as the next president. I am sure she is a good person but not a good president . To be a good president one must be strong and fight for what is right. Unfortunately she does not have these qualities.

  4. The premise of the conflict is simple.De Lima called for a preliminary investigation of several INC church leaders based on the testimony of Mr. Isias Samson, a former-minister-turned-nemesis with allegations of serious illegal detention.

    The response of the INC was swift. Indignation rallies against de Lima in Padre Faura and in EDSA calling for her resignation and branding the investigation as persecution and meddling by the state in an internal squabble in the INC. However, the law is not on INC side with this one. First of all, the anger is premature. Sec. de Lima merely called out for a preliminary investigation. In a preliminary investigation, there are no accusations yet. It is a proceeding that would allow several INC leaders to answer their accusers, in this case, Samson. The State has not taken a side in this case yet because no criminal complaint was ever filed at this point.

    Many INC protesters are saying that what Samson is saying is a lie and I will not even rebut that. However, that is precisely the purpose of a preliminary investigation. To ferret out some facts to determine if an actual case should be filed. If there is no truth to the allegations, It sure will be dismissed. And if there are facts that may lead the DOJ to believe that there is some probable cause, then a case will be filed where there is a court that will determine if the accused are guilty beyond reasonable doubt. And if the trial court errs, the higher courts will always be an option through appeal.

    See, it is still a very long process and being agitated at the beginning of the process courted more suspicion than support.

    • They are invoking separation of church and state. Idiots! They think they are the church already. They are only members of the church and so they cannot be considered separate from the state because they themselves are separate from their church. Somebody should educate these morons on the constitutional provisions. And, furthermore, they cannot claim to be exempted from prosecution the moment they commit a crime or crimes. Every body is treated equally under the law – be he a catholic, protestant, godless, or what not. These morons should be washed away from the shores of the Philippines.

  5. Eliseo Jr. P.Tenza on

    Kung malambot ang namumuno, kayang abusadohin ng grupo ng tao.
    I remember that in Singapore back in the 80’s the Singapore airlines pilots staged a strike and did not want to fly, and asking for a lot of benefits. Lee Kuan yew met them in a meeting and what I recall, LKY told them that their strike is sabotaging Singapore and he will not allow this to happen. He treathened them to report for work, or else he will sack all of them and get new pilots to fly SQ. The pilots went back to work without their grievances being granted. That is true leadership. Malayo ang ating mga pinuno.

    • marivic coronel on

      This is about faith and religion. Ang sinasabi mo ay about company issues. the INC is not a corporation or company na pwede i suppress ng government ang freedom nito for religion. Nasa constitution yan ng phils. Kung alam nyo lang talaga ang ginawa ng gobyerno ni pnoy sa INC using delima .

  6. 1 John 2:28-3:10 ESV
    And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. …

    Matthew 5:9 ESV
    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    Romans 12:2 ESV
    Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    Psalm 119:1-176 ESV
    Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! …

    1 John 3:1-24 ESV
    See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. …

    Revelation 14:12 ESV
    Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

    My brothers and Sister in Christ take heed to this bible quotes. True children of God are humble, not seeking violence, meek, love… in short the fruit of the Spirit are seen in their lives. If the church does not practicing and teaching this things? Brothers and Sisters in Christ I do pray search the scripture by yourselves not through our pastors because the by searching the Bible alone can lead us to the true righteousness of Jesus Christ. Pray earnestly before you study. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  7. Karapatan ng taong bayan na malaman kung ano ang pinagusapan ng kulto ng INK at administrasyon ni Aquino na inutil at manhid na lider. Ito ba ang tuwid na daan? Ito ba ang klase ng mga tagapangasiwa ng ating bayan? Itong si Mar Roxas ay walang tapang ng loob at prinsipiyo kahit alam na niya na si Aquino ay wala sa tamang pagiisip at walang kaalaman sa pagpapatakbo ng pamahalaan lalo na sa mga krisis ng ganito hindi niya sinasabihan ng Noynoy hindi tayo dapat magpakita ng kahinanaan. Kung itong INK ay kayang takutin ang gobyerno at China pa kaya at mga terorista ng tulad ng MNLF, MILF, CPP-NPA? Anong klaseng gobyerno ito? Si Binay, Poe, Escudero, Estrada, Bautista, Abalos at mga trapo ng mga politico na hindi nanndigan para sa katotohanan, justisiya, at panatilihin ang kapayapaan at proteksiyonan ang interes ng bayan at huwag nating ihalal ng kahit na anong posisyon dahil sila ay mga taksil at opportunista. Si Grace Poe ay nagpakit ng kawalan ng malalim na pagiisip at walang sapat na kaalaman sa ating mga batas kaya hindi siya kapatdapat maging lider o kahit pa barangay kapitan. Gumising na tayo mga kababayan hindi sapat na dahil anak o kamaganak ng artista o ng Cory at Ninoy Aquino eh dapat ng ihalal nakita natin ang palpak at korupt na administrasyon ni Aquino. Binayaan niyang nakawin ni Abad at mga korupt na kabinete at mga senador at congressmen at mga politico ang ating mga buwis na binabayaran para gamiting sa saliring interes. Kayong mg miyembro ng INK panahon na para kayo ay magisip ng malalim at surruin ng maigi ang gawin ng inyong culto? Tama ba ang mga ginagawa ni Manalo at mga lider ninyo ng ginagamit ang mga turo ng bibliya para kayo takutin at ng kayo ay magpasakop sa kanila ngunit sila mismo ay lamalabag sa ating batas at kaparapatang ng inyong mga kasamahan ng nagsisiwalat ng malaking pagnanakaw sa kaban ng inyong samahan na galling sa dugo at pawis ng mga moralita na mga tagasunod upang mabuhay ng marangya itong mga lider ninyo? Iyan ba ang turo ni Kristo? Narinig natin ang mga salita ni Ginoong Zabala na hindi karapatdapat na bigkasin ng isang tunay na kristiano puro pangungutiya at hindi makatao at makatarungan na pagaakusa kay Delima. Tumiwalag ng kayo sa culto at hanapin ninyo ang tunay na daan sa Diyos.

    • Ke Iglesia, katoliko, muslim, aglipay, sabadista, saksi ni jehovah, protestante, o anumang relihiyon, filipino o estranghero basta me reklamo o pagkakasala eh subject ka batas ng bansa. Kung kaya mong patunayan na inosente ka o kayo, harapin mo. Kung me kasalanan ang iba, harapin din sa tamang venue.

  8. Mga kababayan, nitong mga nakaraang araw nakita natin ang tunay na uri isang kulto na nagkukunwaring mga tagasunod ni Kristo. Nakita natin ang asal ng kanilang mga tagasunod at mga lider na naghasik ng napakalaking perwisyo sa ating bayan. Ang mga ordinaryong mga tao at negosyo ay labis na naapektuhan ng walang kabulahan na rally ng mga fanatico na wala naming malinaw at matibay na rason para magsagawa ng protesta. Tinangka nilang manakot at magpakita ng kanilang puwersa para pilitiin ang gobyerno na huwag imbestigahan ang possibleng paglabag sa ating mga batas lalo na ang Revised Penal Code at ang paglabag sa karapatan ng kanilang mga dating miyembro at ministro na nagsiwalat ng katiwalian at koruption sa kanilang hanay at kataastaasang liderato. Ang kanilang rason ay bakit daw hindi kasuhanan ng pamahalaan ang mga pumaslang sa mga bayaning SAF 44? Ano ang kinalaman ng ibang kaso sa ginawang krimen ng kanilang liderato sa mga biktima na dumulog sa DOJ? Bakit hindi na lang hayaan ng mga akusado na magkaroon ng patas at bukas ng paguusig sa ilalim ng ating saligang batas upang sa hukuman ay doon nila patunayan na lahat ng binibintang sa mga akusado ay pawang mga kasinungalingan? Ito ay nagpapahiwatig lamang na merong itinatago ang INK kaya sila ay takot sa imbestigasyon at paguusing dahlia lalong mauungkat ang mga iba pang mga labag sa batas na ginagawa at ginawa na kanilang mga lider at organisasyon. Nakita din natin ang kahinaan ng gobyerno at liderato ni Aquino at Roxas. Nakita natin ang mga opportunista at walang paninindigan na mga pulitiko na katulad ni Binay, Poe, Escudero, Estrada, Herbert Baustita, Abalos, at mga trapo na handing talikuran ang ating mga batas at kapakanan ng buong bayan makuha lamang ang boto ng mga fanatiko ng miyembro ng culto na INK. Ginoong Manalo ito ba ang simbahan or iglesia na sumusunod sa Ebanghelyo ni Kristo?

  9. The streets of Metro Manila was held hostage for five days…Initiate a Senate Inquiry on INC Rally…in aid of legislation!!! Calling on Sen. Poe, as chairwoman on Public Order…!

  10. What was the deal? duda ako diyan. sana mali ang iniisip ko na ang deal ay ang boto ng INC ay para kay Roxas at ang kapalit? para sa kabutihan ng INC. AY NAKU! Politics philippine style.

  11. if this tuwid na govt. can make deal with terrorists surely they can make deal with fanatical rubble rousers!

  12. Tulad ng napakaraming mga tao sa malaking perwisyo na dinulot ng ilang araw ng protesta ng INC, ako ay nadismaya na kung puwede lang ay gusto kong sunuggin ng buhay si Manalo. Pero isang bagay ang naging basehan ng kanilang protesta. Iyon ay Mamasapano Massacre. Nanganko ang DOJ na sasampahan nila ng kaso ang mga pumatay sa 44 na SAF. Alam na ni De Lima ang mga pangalan. Pero imbes na ang mga MILF ang denemanda, ang mga taga PNP ang inuna dahil daw sa kapalpakan ng kanilang trabaho na sanhi ng pagkamatay ng 44 na Pulis. Di lang iyan. Natigil sa tatlong senador ang kaso sa PDAF. Nasaan ang mga kasunod lalo na ang mga sangkot na tauhan ni Aquino?

  13. mikhail hieronymus on

    Grace Poe Lllamezares is NO Better than any politicians. She is a TRAPO the way she took advantage of the INC rally. I can not believe she said those words in favor of the INC to curry favor, and against her government. What she did was like: Throwing De Lima under the bus.

    She is an OPPORTUNIST POLITICIAN JUST LIKE THE OTHERS. She is indeed no better than the other Trapo Politician. I am very disappointed. Go away Grace.

    • “I can not believe she said those words in favor of the INC to curry favor, and against her government….”

      Then again, what can we expect from someone who renounced her Filipino citizenship when it was convenient to pledge allegiance to her greener pasture at that time, only to renounce her American citizenship when she realized Malacañang has one of the greenest pasture on the planet?

      The sad truth is, exactly what Erap once said, “weather weather lang.”

    • The government should tag as “TERRORIST” the INC because of what they did! Maraming tao na silang naloko at patuloy na niloloko kasi alam nilang ang mga taong itong niloloko nila ay madaling lokohin kung di man madaling takutin.

  14. Sana maging totoo at transparent ang gobyerno sa atin. Kung totoo man na conspiracy palang nangyayari, sana lumabas na ang katotohanan. Di tayo dapat niloloko ng gobyerno at dinadamay pa ang ibang tao para sa kanilang pansariling interes.