Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
It was a dramatic turn of events leading to the protests. Last July 2015 – Felix “Angel” Nathaniel Villanueva Manalo and his mother Cristina “Tenny” Villanueva Manalo were expelled for their video uploaded on YouTube claiming that their lives are in danger and that a minister has been abducted. (From Inquirer.net) August 26- former Iglesia Ni Cristo minister Isaias Samson files complaint is for serious illegal detention against the entire membership of the Sanggunian, headed by Ka Glicerio Santos Jr at the Department of Justice. (From Interaksyon.com) This triggered a wave of protests in support of the INC Leadership starting last Friday August 28 and ended August 31, 2015, most significantly at the main metropolis intersection of EDSA and Shaw boulevard.
Looking at the timeline, its evident that the government has actually done NOTHING. No arrests have been made; no cases have been filed (by the government) except for the most recent one filed by Samson. There hasn’t even been ANY statements by De Lima affirming or refuting claims by Samson, except ‘they will look into it’.
Personally as a Filipino, as a neutral observer until the protests, I was still giving the INC leadership such as Edwil Zabala, the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes it boils down to he said, she said. One thing that I had to ask myself was IF you sincerely believe you’re innocent of crimes committed shouldn’t you welcome an investigation looking into the matter? WHY would you HAVE TO mobilize thousands of people to protest an investigation that has yet to START let alone draw any form of conclusion on the matter?
Politicians are more vulnerable to INC influence because of the bloc voting power. The media is less likely to buckle down to their pressure. NO one ever questioned their right to assembly or speech. Future presidentiables and candidates have lined up to defend their right to peaceful assembly and so on. The media however has had the temerity to ask the basic question of why they are on the streets, what are they fighting for really?
Professor and columnist Randy David of PDI explained why the Separation of Church and State argument has no bearing or logic (Law Politics and the INC). Phil Star columnists Ana Marie Pamintuan, Cito Beltran (many more) echoed his sentiments. Bishop Teddy Bacani was part of the commission, which drafted the 1986 Constitution the INC is quoting. Bacani has very clearly stated that their writing of that line has absolutely nothing to do with the Isaias case and what the protests are fighting for.
DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima is obligated to look into this case by Isaias Samson, which is a huge deal. Considering the fact that as many columnists have also pointed out Janet Lim Napoles has been detained not for misuse of public funds but illegal detention, just like this case.
The rally at EDSA Crossing instigated by some members of INC leadership is a statement to the current government AND to candidates. Their actions speak louder than words: THIS is who we ARE, this is what we can DO any time, anywhere we want AND there’s no way you can stop us. WE DARE you to investigate into the Isaias Samson case and let’s see what will happen. We don’t care if we aggravate an already horrible traffic situation in EDSA. We can DO anything we WANT.
They’re basically holding our government and our whole country hostage over this issue. Similar mass protests have been organized in Davao, Cebu and Palawan.
It is the same impunity that the Ampatuans felt during President GMA’s administration. They delivered the votes from Maguindanao. They felt they could massacre anyone who tried to run for the same office they held AND cause the record number of journalists ever being killed at one time. Zoom to what happened August 28, 2015 Friday at the EDSA shrine. An ABS CBN cameraman Melchor Pinlac was attacked while he was shooting video footage of the INC protests.
After their mindless, senseless protest choking up traffic for hundreds of thousands of people stranded in the streets for days. After harming businesses reliant on traffic flow in an important intersection in the metro for four days and members of their flock attacking a media man. After four days of generating truckloads of garbage, urine on walls of surrounding buildings, the question is: what does it get them? The answer: a personal meeting and dialogue with the President. A statement by Malacañang praises the peaceful resolution of the protests.
NO wonder the INC has proclaimed their ‘protest action’ as a howling success. Candidates have come to their support. The government AGAIN has done nothing to make them pay for their use of mob power and God knows what else.
For us ordinary folk who do not have the voting bloc and influence on our politicians of the INC what can we do? Are we completely powerless? I don’t believe so. We are a democracy, a free society. No matter how chaotic or how vested interests like the INC pervert the concept, we are STILL a democracy. We can and SHOULD vote for people who have the knowledge, wisdom and most of all the courage to do what is right, instead of bowing down to groups who can put candidates into power.
LISTEN very carefully to each candidate, do they give in and defend this influential powerful group or do they stand for the rest of us, for the whole country?
Inquirer.net quoted VP Jejomar Binay on the issue: “We cannot fault the INC for resorting to mass action to protect the independence of their church from a clear act of harassment and interference from the administration. Religious freedom is guaranteed by our Constitution. Yet the administration chose to trample on this sacred right. What we are seeing are people fighting for their faith.”
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