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PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
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IGLESIA NI CRISTO DEMANDS LEILA's HEAD OVER 'INORDINATE INTEREST' IN  OUSTED MINISTER's CASE
[INC officials on Wednesday assailed the “extraordinary attention” given by De Lima to the case filed by ousted minister Isaias Samson Jr., when she has not given the same attention to the case of the fallen 44 police commandos killed in the Mamasapano massacre in January.]


AUGUST 28 -Iglesia protest. Iglesia ni Cristo members gather in front of the Department of Justice building in Manila to demand the resignation of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima over an expelled Iglesia member. Danny Pata
MORE than 1,000 members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo gathered in front of the Justice Department Thursday to demand the resignation of Secretary Leila de Lima over her “inordinate interest” in a case filed by an ousted minister, Isaias Samson Jr., against church leaders. Police said the number of protesters gathered before the department’s office on Padre Faura Street in Manila’s Ermita district swelled from a few hundred in the afternoon to more than 1,000 at around 8 p.m., most of them students from the church’s New Era University.By the early evening, no ranking INC official could be seen on the makeshift stage that the group had set up on the street beside a giant LED screen, but the protesters were in a festive mood, chanting “Huwag pabebe” and “Kalayaan ng Iglesia, huwag gipitin [Don’t quell the freedom of religion].” Church officials backstage declined to comment if the rally had been ordered by church leaders, but one of them said the protest was scheduled to last until Friday afternoon. INC officials on Wednesday assailed the “extraordinary attention” given by De Lima to the case filed by ousted minister Isaias Samson Jr., when she has not given the same attention to the case of the 44 police commandos killed in the Mamasapano massacre in January. READ MORE...

ALSO: Iglesia ni Cristo leaders ‘manufacturing revolution,’ says former minister’s lawyer


AUGUST 30 -Expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. PHOTO BY TARRA QUISMUNDO 
Leaders of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) are manufacturing a “revolution” and politicians are pandering to their whims unaware that the prized bloc vote of the group may be gone, the lawyer of an expelled INC minister who brought the criminal complaint that sparked the standoff between the government and the homegrown Christian sect said on Saturday. Trixie Cruz-Angeles, the lawyer of expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr., said the Iglesia mass action on Edsa began as “a crisis within the church,” but it seemed that there were “political opportunists who would like to cast this as something else.”  “If the Sanggunian (the INC governing council) wants to use [the] government to ratify their patently illegal acts, given the elections, doubtless they will find officials willing to go so far for them. As in fact, there already are,” Angeles said.
Television reports late Friday said Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, President Aquino’s aunt who lost a run for the Senate as an opposition candidate in 2013, and Council of Philippine Affairs (Copa) head Pastor Saycon were seen at the INC rally in front of the Edsa Shrine. Members of the INC are known to follow directives from the sect’s leadership under the threat of expulsion, enabling the group to deliver votes to politicians endorsed by its leaders. INC followers began to mass up in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) building on Padre Faura Street in Manila on Thursday, accusing Justice Secretary Leila de Lima of bias for accepting for investigation Samson’s complaint of illegal detention, harassment, threats and coercion against members of the sect’s governing council. READ MORE...

ALSO: DoJ chief mum amid brickbats; Palace keeps hands off anti-Leila protest
{“[The] government is not taking an adversarial position against the INC whose contributions to national development and demonstration of civic consciousness are duly acknowledged,” Coloma added.}


AUGUST 30 -Silence of the accused. Protesters hold up a streamer saying in Tagalog ‘De Lima meddler.’ FRANKIE TUYAY
FOR the second day, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima remained silent in the face of questions why she was supposedly “inordinately interested” in a case involving an expelled minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo when her office had many other more important cases.
Former congressman Rodante Marcoleta challenged De Lima to explain why she was “unusually interested” in the illegal detention complaint expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. filed against Iglesia leaders. “What is so spectacular about the case of Isaias Samson?” asked Marcoleta, who served three terms as representative of the Alagad party-list, which is also dominated by the INC.“This is not a simple case of illegal detention. This also involves the key issue of church and state. [De Lima] should realize that any disciplinary measure against [a church] member is part of religious freedom,” Marcoleta said in a talk show aired over Net25. “How can she ask people to vote for her when she has not even fulfilled her sworn duty at the DOJ. Her department should be called Department of Selective Justice,” he said, referring to De Lima’s supposed plan to run for senator in next year’s national elections. “Her motive is clear,” he said. “She wants to shake the unity of the church. She wants to test whether she can cross the line separating the church and the state.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Using decoy, De Lima flees angry Iglesia members
[PROTESTERS VOW TO INTENSIFY PRESSURE ON DOJ CHIEF BY HOLDING 3-DAY VIGIL]


AUGUST 27 -DE LIMA: 'Just doing my job" -INC accuses De Lima of double standard INQUIRER PHOTO
INC members shouted “bigyan ng katarungan ang SAF 44″ and called for a respect of the separation of church and State, saying “we are one religion.” De Lima’s vehicle moved back inside DOJ while INC members shouted “bias.” Senior Superintendent Marcelino Pedroso, Public Safety Battalion chief, talked to the protesters and they eventually allowed de Lima’s vehicle to pass. However, sources said the Justice Secretary managed to flee the DOJ building by passing through the connecting door between the DOJ and the Supreme Court where she was escorted by members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Pedrozo estimated that more than 500 to 1,000 INC members gathered outside the DOJ. The stretch of Padre Faura was closed to traffic. A DOJ official who refused to be identified questioned why the police were allowing the INC members to block the gate of a national agency.Pedrozo said the protesters have been issued a permit by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. But the DOJ official said “kahit isang sako pang permit ang na-issue sa kanila, hindi nila dapat hinaharangan ang gate ng isang national government agency.” Days before the protest, the INC has questioned de Lima’s motive in what it deemed was “extraordinary attention” given to the illegal detention case filed by expelled minister Isaias Samson Jr. against the leaders of the church. Illegal detention is a nonbailable offense. Samson, a minister for more than 40 years, used to be the Sanggunian member in charge of foreign mission and editor in chief of the INC official organ before he was expelled by the INC leadership.READ MORE...

WATCH VIDEO: De Lima outwits INC members, sends decoy........
 Video URL: https://youtu.be/lHuLeD5HbPw
 

ALSO: Iglesia Ni Cristo protesters occupy Edsa
[IGLESIA WANTS DOJ TO STOP PROBE ON ILLEGAL DETENTION RAPS FILED BY EXPELLED MINISTER]


AUGUST 29 -‘FAITH, NOT POLITICS’ So goes the message on a placard hoisted by members of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), which moved its forces to the Catholics’ hallowed Edsa Shrine in Quezon City on Friday night after a mass action that began the previous day at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila. The religious group wants the DOJ to stop its investigation of a criminal complaint filed by an expelled minister against INC advisory council members. LYN RILLON
The Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) took its protest to Edsa on Friday night to pressure the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop its investigation of the alleged kidnapping of several INC ministers.At 8:30 Friday night, hundreds of INC members converged outside SM Megamall Fashion Hall in Mandaluyong City and then started to march toward Shaw Boulevard.The marchers chanted, “Justice! INC! Nobody goes home!” As of 11:30 p.m., TV5 reported that President Benigno Aquino III’s aunt, Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, and Council of Philippine Affairs (Copa) head Pastor Boy Saycon, were seen at the INC rally on Edsa.Cojuangco is the wife of Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, brother of Cory Aquino. The Cojuangco couple and Saycon are allies of Vice President Jejomar Binay. It was apparently a show of force, as at 9 p.m. the crowd spilled over to the southbound lane of Edsa, paralyzing traffic on the opposite lane.The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) placed the crowd estimate at the corner of Edsa and Ortigas Avenue to be at 1,500 people. Meanwhile, those gathered at the intersection of Edsa and Shaw Boulevard were estimated to be at 3,000 as of 11 pm Friday.The protesters cheered as buses gave up on trying to make progress and pulled back to take other routes. “We are one!” the protesters chanted. They repeatedly shouted a countdown, then howled, but gave no explanation of what they were trying to accomplish.But one sign, repeated on many others, indicated the reason for the mass action: “We won’t be on the street now had the Iglesia been left alone!” The NCRPO went on full alert starting 6 p.m. as the INC protesters gathered on Edsa. READ MORE...

ALSO: INC execs appeal for understanding, rallyists get flak over EDSA traffic jams


AUGUST 30 -Members of the Iglesia ni Cristo display placards during a protest at the intersection of EDSA and Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City yesterday. At right, heavy traffic is seen on the northbound lane of EDSA as a result of the protest action. Joven Cagande
Amid chaos on the road and frayed nerves, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) appealed yesterday for understanding as heavier traffic is expected tomorrow along EDSA where more of the sect’s members are expected to converge as part of their continuing protest against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s alleged partiality in dealing with cases involving leaders of the religious group.
Expressions of indignation and outrage flooded social media yesterday, the third day of the INC’s protest action which began last Thursday outside the Department of Justice complex on Padre Faura street in Ermita, Manila. INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said it was not their intention to cause inconvenience to the public, as they merely wanted to exercise their freedom to peacefully gather and air their grievances. His appeal for understanding came amid reports of ABS-CBN cameraman Melchor Pinlac being beaten up by an unidentified INC protester while he was taking footage of rallyists near the EDSA shrine last Friday. Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ricardo Marquez urged Pinlac to file a complaint against his assailant. Zabala said the protests may have initially been noisy and left heaps of trash in many places, but the group is ready to clean up their mess after the protest activities. He said the INC was able to secure yesterday a permit to rally at EDSA-Shaw in Mandaluyong City from Mayor Benjamin Abalos Jr. until today. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

INC demands Leila’s head


Iglesia protest. Iglesia ni Cristo members gather in front of the Department of Justice building in Manila to demand the resignation of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima over an expelled Iglesia member. Danny Pata

MANILA, AUGUST 31, 2015 (MANILA STANDARD) By Rey E. Requejo, Jaypee Bencito | Aug. 28, 2015 at 12:01am - MORE than 1,000 members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo gathered in front of the Justice Department Thursday to demand the resignation of Secretary Leila de Lima over her “inordinate interest” in a case filed by an ousted minister, Isaias Samson Jr., against church leaders.

Police said the number of protesters gathered before the department’s office on Padre Faura Street in Manila’s Ermita district swelled from a few hundred in the afternoon to more than 1,000 at around 8 p.m., most of them students from the church’s New Era University.

By the early evening, no ranking INC official could be seen on the makeshift stage that the group had set up on the street beside a giant LED screen, but the protesters were in a festive mood, chanting “Huwag pabebe” and “Kalayaan ng Iglesia, huwag gipitin [Don’t quell the freedom of religion].”

Church officials backstage declined to comment if the rally had been ordered by church leaders, but one of them said the protest was scheduled to last until Friday afternoon.

INC officials on Wednesday assailed the “extraordinary attention” given by De Lima to the case filed by ousted minister Isaias Samson Jr., when she has not given the same attention to the case of the 44 police commandos killed in the Mamasapano massacre in January.

READ MORE...

Sought for comment, De Lima said she was just doing her job.


DE LIMA

An INC member, who requested anonymity, told The Standard that they would be holding a vigil at the Justice Department to demand De Lima’s resignation. The vigil protest will likely continue until Saturday, the source added.

“We want De Lima to step down immediately due to her clear bias against the INC leadership,” the source said, adding that the Justice secretary has shown undue interest in the case.

“We are apprehensive that it might be used for political purposes,” the INC member said, but declined to elaborate.

Police Supt. Albert Barot said 50 policemen were deployed in the area to secure the safety of the INC members gathered there.

He said the protesters had a permit from the Manila city hall.

“We will provide security in the area to ensure that no untoward incident will happen during the vigil. We already deployed 50 policemen, and we will ask for more if the crowd of INC members grows,” Barot said.

At about 5 p.m., the INC members tried to block vehicles leaving the Justice Department compound, changing “bias” against De Lima.

Others shouted for justice for the 44 police commandos who died in Mamasapano.

Sources said De Lima slipped out of the Justice Department building by passing through a door connected to the Supreme Court, where she was escorted out by members of the National Bureau of Investigation.

The stretch of Padre Faura in front of the Justice Department was closed to traffic.

The Palace defended De Lima’s decision to investigate the INC case.

“Cabinet members serve for as long as they enjoy the President’s trust and confidence. Has the Justice secretary committed any action that would seriously undermine such trust and confidence?” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a text message to The Standard.

On Wednesday, an INC evangelist Bienvenido C. Santiago questioned De Lima’s real motive after they learned that the secretary was personally attending to the filing of cases by the Samson.

Moreover, he said that the INC had also learned that the DOJ has placed under its custody some of those dismissed by the INC who have been responsible for sowing intrigues and divisiveness in the organization.


INQUIRER

Iglesia ni Cristo leaders ‘manufacturing revolution,’ says former minister’s lawyer By: Tarra Quismundo @inquirerdotnet 03:10 AM August 30th, 2015


Expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. PHOTO BY TARRA QUISMUNDO

Leaders of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) are manufacturing a “revolution” and politicians are pandering to their whims unaware that the prized bloc vote of the group may be gone, the lawyer of an expelled INC minister who brought the criminal complaint that sparked the standoff between the government and the homegrown Christian sect said on Saturday.

Trixie Cruz-Angeles, the lawyer of expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr., said the Iglesia mass action on Edsa began as “a crisis within the church,” but it seemed that there were “political opportunists who would like to cast this as something else.”

“If the Sanggunian (the INC governing council) wants to use [the] government to ratify their patently illegal acts, given the elections, doubtless they will find officials willing to go so far for them. As in fact, there already are,” Angeles said.

Television reports late Friday said Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, President Aquino’s aunt who lost a run for the Senate as an opposition candidate in 2013, and Council of Philippine Affairs (Copa) head Pastor Saycon were seen at the INC rally in front of the Edsa Shrine.


Tingting Cojuangco speaks at INC protest; INC apologizes for traffic August 29, 2015 11:48pm Former Tarlac Governor Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco spoke before Iglesia ni Cristo protesters Saturday night at the corner of EDSA-Shaw, Super Radyo dzBB's James Agustin reported. GMA NEWS AUGUST 30, 2015

Members of the INC are known to follow directives from the sect’s leadership under the threat of expulsion, enabling the group to deliver votes to politicians endorsed by its leaders.

INC followers began to mass up in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) building on Padre Faura Street in Manila on Thursday, accusing Justice Secretary Leila de Lima of bias for accepting for investigation Samson’s complaint of illegal detention, harassment, threats and coercion against members of the sect’s governing council.

READ MORE...

INC crisis

The former editor in chief of the INC’s official publication, Pasugo (God’s Message), filed the criminal charges after the council allegedly placed him and his family under “house arrest” in July, suspecting him of being behind accusations of corruption and wrongdoing against the sect’s leadership published online.

Samson denied the allegations.

The crisis within the sect became known in July when the mother and younger brother of INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo posted on Facebook an appeal for help from other Iglesia followers, claiming their lives were in danger.

Cristina Manalo, widow of the late INC leader Eraño Manalo, and Angel Manalo were expelled for trying to cause division within the church, according to spokesperson for the group.

Concerned for the safety of the two Manalos, disgruntled sect members disclosed bad business decisions and financial excesses involving members of the governing council, leading to a scandal that suggested the secretive INC may not be rock-solid after all.

Those who stayed with the leadership showed their obedience by massing in front of the DOJ building on Thursday then, following fresh orders, moved to Edsa during rush hour on Friday night, occupying a site from where popular revolts toppled from power strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and President Joseph Estrada in 2001. Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989. Estrada is now mayor of Manila.

Angeles said the protest was the INC governing council’s way of protecting its members.

‘Running scared’

In an earlier interview, Angeles said those behind Samson’s abduction were “running scared,” aware that they faced “serious jail time.”

“[All that Mr. Samson] is doing is [trying to save] the church from its wayward leaders. These leaders, on the other hand, need some outside help and the only way to do that is to cast this as something revolutionary,” Angeles said on Saturday.

Asked about politicians who are riding on the INC mass action, Angeles said they could be banking on the Iglesia bloc vote, which may no longer exist given the crisis within the sect.

“They don’t realize that the church is divided now. The much vaunted bloc vote may not materialize anymore,” Angeles said.

“If this (situation) continues, we may be looking at the end of the [political] influence the [INC].

Its leaders have cooked their own goose. Ironic that their greed has led to this,” she said.


MANILA STANDARD

DoJ chief mum amid brickbats By Francisco Tuyay | Aug. 30, 2015 at 12:01am


Silence of the accused. Protesters hold up a streamer saying in Tagalog ‘De Lima meddler.’ FRANKIE TUYAY

FOR the second day, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima remained silent in the face of questions why she was supposedly “inordinately interested” in a case involving an expelled minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo when her office had many other more important cases.

Former congressman Rodante Marcoleta challenged De Lima to explain why she was “unusually interested” in the illegal detention complaint expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. filed against Iglesia leaders.

“What is so spectacular about the case of Isaias Samson?” asked Marcoleta, who served three terms as representative of the Alagad party-list, which is also dominated by the INC.

“This is not a simple case of illegal detention. This also involves the key issue of church and state. [De Lima] should realize that any disciplinary measure against [a church] member is part of religious freedom,” Marcoleta said in a talk show aired over Net25.

“How can she ask people to vote for her when she has not even fulfilled her sworn duty at the DOJ. Her department should be called Department of Selective Justice,” he said, referring to De Lima’s supposed plan to run for senator in next year’s national elections.

“Her motive is clear,” he said. “She wants to shake the unity of the church. She wants to test whether she can cross the line separating the church and the state.”

READ MORE...

Marcoleta slammed De Lima for saying that she was just doing her job when she had many other more important cases that needs her attention before she leaves to campaign for the Senate.

“You are not doing your job,” Marcoleta said to De Lima. “You are overdoing your job when you have many other cases needing your attention.”

The former congressman cited the case of the police commandos who were killed in the controversial Mamasapano operation that was approved by President Benigno Aquino III and directed by suspended police chief Alan Purisima.

Marcoleta noted that two of the slain commandos were members of the INC, but De Lima still has not filed charges on the case that is already seven months old.

He also cited the cases of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, Zamboanga siege, collusion in the electricity spot market and human trafficking in Kuwait as examples of important cases that remain pending with De Lima.

-------------------------------------------------------

RELATED

Palace keeps hands off anti-Leila protest By Sandy Araneta | Aug. 29, 2015 at 12:01am


DeLima

THE Palace said Friday it will not take “an adversarial position” against the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) despite its protest actions in front of the Justice Department this week to demand the resignation of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

“[The] government’s duty is to ensure that the laws of the land are complied with and does not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of any legitimate organization,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a statement issued Friday.

“[The] government is not taking an adversarial position against the INC whose contributions to national development and demonstration of civic consciousness are duly acknowledged,” Coloma added.

“We trust that expressions of dissent will continue to be peaceful, orderly and not in any way disruptive of normal activities of our citizenry,” Coloma also said.

De Lima chose not to show up at the Justice Department office in Manila Friday after protesters massed up along Padre Faura Street.

“The Justice secretary is not in the DoJ. She is out attending a meeting and we do not know if she will be returning later,” said Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano.

Justiniano said operations inside the DoJ have not been disrupted, but said employees felt the situation was “not normal.”

“Nothing changed, but restrictions implemented in the entry and exit of the DoJ,” he said.

Reporters have been barred from going to the second floor of the building where De Lima’s office is located.

About 3,000 INC members joined the vigil that started Thursday.

The INC has accused De Lima of meddling with the internal affairs of the religious group for ordering an investigation into the alleged abductions of its members. AFP

There was no word from INC officials when the protests would end.

Two politicians—Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Francis Escudero—took the INC side and urged the Justice Department to refrain from meddling in church affairs.

“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,” the Vice President said in a statement.

“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,” Binay said.

“As public officials, it is our duty to respect the internal affairs and concerns of the INC and allow them, without the unwarranted interference from government, to conduct their own business in accordance with their religious beliefs. No less than our Constitution guarantees this inviolable separation of church and state,” he said.

Escudero said instead of focusing on what could be “purely an internal problem” within the INC, De Lima should give priority to completing the investigation into the bloody Mamasapano massacre in which 44 police commandos were killed.

Escudero said De Lima should uphold the principle of separation of the church and state.

He said the Justice Department’s investigation of the controversy surrounding the INC may be misinterpreted as an interference and infringement of the right to religious freedom guaranteed under the Constitution.

He said it may be a prudent to first let the leadership of the INC resolve what appears to be a purely internal matter.

“We don’t want to see any divisiveness and misunderstanding at this time,” he said.

The senator said it has been seven months since the Mamasapano massacre yet there was no complete picture of what really transpired.

“The case has long been pending....I hope the public will see the conclusion of the case at the Department of Justice so that those responsible should be made answerable.” – With Vito Barcelo and Macon Ramos-Araneta


INQUIRER

De Lima flees angry Iglesia members @inquirerdotnet 05:07 PM August 27th, 2015

PROTESTERS VOW TO INTENSIFY PRESSURE ON DOJ CHIEF BY HOLDING 3-DAY VIGIL


MEMBERS of the Iglesia Ni Cristo blocked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s vehicle from going out of the Department of Justice (DOJ) compound on Thursday as they vowed to intensify pressure on her by holding a three-day protest vigil.

INC members shouted “bigyan ng katarungan ang SAF 44″ and called for a respect of the separation of church and State, saying “we are one religion.”

De Lima’s vehicle moved back inside DOJ while INC members shouted “bias.”
Senior Superintendent Marcelino Pedroso, Public Safety Battalion chief, talked to the protesters and they eventually allowed de Lima’s vehicle to pass.

PLEASE ALSO READ: 1,000 INC members mass up at DOJ, slam De Lima meddling in church affairs

However, sources said the Justice Secretary managed to flee the DOJ building by passing through the connecting door between the DOJ and the Supreme Court where she was escorted by members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Pedrozo estimated that more than 500 to 1,000 INC members gathered outside the DOJ.

The stretch of Padre Faura was closed to traffic.

A DOJ official who refused to be identified questioned why the police were allowing the INC members to block the gate of a national agency.
Pedrozo said the protesters have been issued a permit by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

But the DOJ official said “kahit isang sako pang permit ang na-issue sa kanila, hindi nila dapat hinaharangan ang gate ng isang national government agency.”

Days before the protest, the INC has questioned de Lima’s motive in what it deemed was “extraordinary attention” given to the illegal detention case filed by expelled minister Isaias Samson Jr. against the leaders of the church. Illegal detention is a nonbailable offense.

Samson, a minister for more than 40 years, used to be the Sanggunian member in charge of foreign mission and editor in chief of the INC official organ before he was expelled by the INC leadership.

READ MORE...

Bienvenido Santiago, INC general evangelist, also said De Lima should show the same enthusiasm in resolving the Mamasapano case in which 44 members of the police Special Action Force were killed, including two INC members, in an operation in Maguindanao province.

Samson accused Sanggunian ministers of ordering him and his family’s detention in their own house in Quezon City amid the power struggle that gripped the INC in July.

The INC official wondered why the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not give attention to the case of the 40 policemen who died in Mamasapano like what it did to those who filed a complaint in the DOJ on Tuesday.

“Compared with the 40 policemen who died in Mamasapano, not a single mosquito died in the complaint filed by Samson,” Santiago said.

The INC official said two church members—Nicky Nacino and Ephraim Mejia—were among the Fallen 44 but the church quietly waited for the DOJ to go after the personalities responsible for the bloody operation, including government officials who should be held accountable.

“We want Secretary De Lima and anyone who ordered her to know that Iglesia is requesting, in the name of those left behind by the two men who died in Mamasapano, who were our brothers in Iglesia, that they aggressively pursue the case of the Fallen 44,” Santiago said.

“In short, the justice department should be fair and without bias. [This is] the least we expect from the Department of Justice is justice,” he added.
Tetch Torres-Tupas with a background report from Erika Sauler/AC


INQUIRER

Iglesia Ni Cristo protesters occupy Edsa By: Jaymee T. Gamil, Jovic Yee and Tarra Quismundo @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 02:23 AM August 29th, 2015

IGLESIA WANTS DOJ TO STOP PROBE ON ILLEGAL DETENTION RAPS FILED BY EXPELLED MINISTER  


‘FAITH, NOT POLITICS’ So goes the message on a placard hoisted by members of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), which moved its forces to the Catholics’ hallowed Edsa Shrine in Quezon City on Friday night after a mass action that began the previous day at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila. The religious group wants the DOJ to stop its investigation of a criminal complaint filed by an expelled minister against INC advisory council members. LYN RILLON

The Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) took its protest to Edsa on Friday night to pressure the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop its investigation of the alleged kidnapping of several INC ministers.

At 8:30 Friday night, hundreds of INC members converged outside SM Megamall Fashion Hall in Mandaluyong City and then started to march toward Shaw Boulevard.

The marchers chanted, “Justice! INC! Nobody goes home!”

As of 11:30 p.m., TV5 reported that President Benigno Aquino III’s aunt, Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, and Council of Philippine Affairs (Copa) head Pastor Boy Saycon, were seen at the INC rally on Edsa.

Cojuangco is the wife of Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, brother of Cory Aquino.

The Cojuangco couple and Saycon are allies of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

It was apparently a show of force, as at 9 p.m. the crowd spilled over to the southbound lane of Edsa, paralyzing traffic on the opposite lane.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) placed the crowd estimate at the corner of Edsa and Ortigas Avenue to be at 1,500 people.

Meanwhile, those gathered at the intersection of Edsa and Shaw Boulevard were estimated to be at 3,000 as of 11 pm Friday.

The protesters cheered as buses gave up on trying to make progress and pulled back to take other routes.

“We are one!” the protesters chanted.

They repeatedly shouted a countdown, then howled, but gave no explanation of what they were trying to accomplish.

But one sign, repeated on many others, indicated the reason for the mass action: “We won’t be on the street now had the Iglesia been left alone!”

The NCRPO went on full alert starting 6 p.m. as the INC protesters gathered on Edsa.

READ MORE...

Chief Supt. Joel Pagdilao, NCRPO director, ordered riot police deployed to the People Power Monument on Edsa.

Malacañang said the government was monitoring the INC mass action to ensure public safety.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Aquino did not call an emergency meeting. But a source said Interior Secretary Mar Roxas was called to Malacañang Friday night.

Coloma declined to comment when asked if the President alerted the military and the police as more INC members poured into the stretch of Edsa from Edsa Shrine to Shaw Boulevard.

“The government is taking appropriate action with focus on public safety assurance,” Coloma said when asked if there was reason for the public to worry about the INC mass action turning into a people power uprising.

Pagdilao said Task Force Manila Shield was activated.

Task Force Manila Shield is a complex police security arrangement for securing Metro Manila during massive demonstrations.

The task force was last activated in 2014, during the rallies against the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Roxas, overseer of the Philippine National Police, ordered maximum tolerance as the protesters grew in number.

He said the rule of law must prevail as the protesters press their accusation that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was meddling in INC internal affairs.

In a statement issued Friday night, Roxas said the police was “duty-bound to ensure that the safety and general welfare of the public is maintained, both those protesting and those uninvolved.”

“Let us remember that ours is a rule of law and not of men,” Roxas said. “As in all protest actions, preserving peace and order with maximum tolerance will be practiced by all responding policemen.”

The INC protesters, numbering about 5,000, had yet to hold a program as of 9 Friday night, although they blocked the northbound lane of Edsa, rendering it impassable to all vehicles.

Chanting “De Lima pabebe (trying to be cute),” the protesters massed in front of Edsa Shrine.

Riot police deployed to Edsa Shrine said they were under orders to keep the INC members out of the shrine.

“We want to show this government, especially Injustice Secretary (Leila de Lima) that the INC can muster its own people power,” said an elderly INC member who identified herself as Ka Minda.

Ka Minda said the INC protesters wanted De Lima to stop meddling in the group’s internal affairs.

Earlier Friday, INC members said they would not leave their protest in front of the DOJ building in Manila until they were recalled by the leaders of their church.

The city government was willing to allow them to stay there for one week, with Mayor Joseph Estrada extending their rally permit up to Friday next week, but the Iglesia protesters said they would stay “for as long as the church’s administration wants us to be here.”

Invoking the constitutional provision on the separation of church and state, the INC ordered the protest to pressure De Lima to give up the investigation of the alleged abduction of several INC ministers who had spoken against questionable decisions of the sect’s governing council called Sanggunian.

Human shield

Afraid of prosecution and aware of their guilt, the INC highest administrative body is using church followers as human shields against the law, lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles said on Friday night, speaking on behalf of her client Isaias Samson Jr., the expelled INC minister whose detention, harassment, threats and coercion charges filed in the DOJ against Sanggunian officials spurred protests against De Lima at her very doorstep.

“The Sanggunian, the people who we filed charges against are running scared, they are very, very afraid,” said Angeles when reached by phone.

“This will present some serious jail time for them,” she told the Inquirer.

She said the charges filed earlier this week were only the initial set of cases that her client is planning to lodge against his former peers in the church.

Samson, former editor in chief of the INC’s official publication Pasugo (God’s Message), has accused Sanggunian members of placing him and his family under “house arrest” in July amid an apparent crackdown against church members critical of certain practices of INC officials.

“First they thought Ka Jun (Samson) would not put his money where his mouth is, so to speak, that he was afraid. They thought they had neutralized him. But with his coming out and filing cases, these are only the first cases. There are more. And they know that,” Angeles said.

Church divided

“Not only that. They are also aware of their own guilt, that much of the church is aware of their guilt. This is a church divided, as I said,” she said.

The lawyer said Samson continues to wield influence within the church, with his followers “still growing exponentially” albeit secretly to protect the INC.

She said her client already got wind of plans for members to hold protests outside the DOJ even before the first group arrived on Padre Faura. He had also received early information that the members were planning to regroup in Ortigas.

“Mr. Samson is one of the most upright and highly regarded ministers of the church. He held very high positions. His family was there from the start, from the founding of the church. This is not a man you can ignore,” said Angeles.

She said INC members participating in the protests were those who had “no choice.”

“He (Samson) understands that because obedience is a tenet of the church,” said Angeles.

She said the Sanggunian had also deceived its members by saying that Samson’s complaint placed INC Executive Minister Eraño Manalo under threat of arrest. Manalo is not a respondent in Samson’s charges.

“The penalty [for disobedience] is tiwalag (expulsion). If you’re expelled, you can’t talk to anybody in the church,” Angeles said.

The mass action began on Thursday, with hundreds massing in front of the DOJ building on Padre Faura Street.

The crowd had grown to more than 3,000 by yesterday afternoon, city police said.
Jeepney drivers complained about the disruption caused by the INC mass action after city authorities closed the stretch of Taft Avenue from Pedro Gil Street to United Nations Avenue, forcing motorists to make a long and winding detour through Paco district to get to their destinations on the northern side of the Pasig River.

Students and workers whose schools and offices are located in the area complained about the racket made by the protesters, and street cleaners denounced the protesters for urinating on walls and dumping trash on the streets.

Peaceful rally

Estrada said he extended the protesters’ rally permit because they “gave an assurance that they will hold a peaceful rally and there will be no obstruction of traffic.”

Asked why the INC members were given a rally permit in the first place, Estrada replied: “Why wouldn’t they be allowed? [This is] a free country. It’s a constitutional right. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Estrada said the protest would be allowed only up to the end of the period specified in the permit.

He said he had directed the city police to maintain peace and order in the protest area.

Unaware of the traffic rerouting and the stink caused by the protesters, he said that so far “everything is normal.”

The bloc-voting INC endorsed Estrada when he ran for President in 1998. It also backed him but failed to stop his ouster in 2001.

Yesterday he said the INC members were protesting De Lima’s “one-sided” handling of the alleged abductions.

“But it’s up to the court to decide on that complaint,” Estrada said.

Malacañang urged the protesters to keep their mass action peaceful.

A source from the INC, who requested not to be named because he had no clearance from the group’s leaders to speak to the media, said the mass action was caused by the “extraordinary attention” given by De Lima to the complaint of illegal detention filed on Tuesday by expelled INC minister Samson.

Samson accused members of the INC advisory council of illegal detention, threats and coercion, saying he and his family were placed under house arrest in their own home because the sect’s leadership suspected he was the pseudonymous critic of the group, Antonio Ebangelista, who posted criticisms of the council’s decisions on the Internet.

Samson denied he was Ebangelista. He said he and his family escaped from detention in July.

Ministers abducted

He also alleged that several INC ministers who had spoken against the council’s questionable financial decisions were also abducted.

The INC protest failed to force De Lima to drop the investigation. She denied interferring in INC internal affairs, saying she was just doing her job.

De Lima did not show up at the DOJ. Many employees of the department were also unable to report for work because the protesters blocked the gates to the building.

The INC source said De Lima should admit that the process for the filing of the complaint was shortened and that the decision to bring the complaint was influenced by politics.

But acknowledging that such an admission would be political suicide for De Lima, who is expected to run for the Senate next year, the source said the justice chief should at the very least say that she would “reexamine” the complaint.


PHILSTAR

INC leaders appeal for understanding rallyists get flak over EDSA traffic jams By Robertzon Ramirez and Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 30, 2015 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


Members of the Iglesia ni Cristo display placards during a protest at the intersection of EDSA and Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City yesterday. At right, heavy traffic is seen on the northbound lane of EDSA as a result of the protest action. Joven Cagande

MANILA, Philippines - Amid chaos on the road and frayed nerves, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) appealed yesterday for understanding as heavier traffic is expected tomorrow along EDSA where more of the sect’s members are expected to converge as part of their continuing protest against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s alleged partiality in dealing with cases involving leaders of the religious group.

Expressions of indignation and outrage flooded social media yesterday, the third day of the INC’s protest action which began last Thursday outside the Department of Justice complex on Padre Faura street in Ermita, Manila.

INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said it was not their intention to cause inconvenience to the public, as they merely wanted to exercise their freedom to peacefully gather and air their grievances.

His appeal for understanding came amid reports of ABS-CBN cameraman Melchor Pinlac being beaten up by an unidentified INC protester while he was taking footage of rallyists near the EDSA shrine last Friday.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ricardo Marquez urged Pinlac to file a complaint against his assailant.

Zabala said the protests may have initially been noisy and left heaps of trash in many places, but the group is ready to clean up their mess after the protest activities.

He said the INC was able to secure yesterday a permit to rally at EDSA-Shaw in Mandaluyong City from Mayor Benjamin Abalos Jr. until today.

READ MORE...


Bro. Eli Soriano throws support for De Lima amid Iglesia Ni Cristo probe
Soriano, who suggested the use of hashtag #TheTruthCaster in the campaign for De Lima, claimed that “many dogs” are running after the justice secretary. He did not elaborate. Bro. Eli Soriano is a well-known international televangelist and is the Overall Servant of the Members, Church of God International. He is also the host of the popular religious TV program Ang Dating Daan.

There would be no extension of the rally permit “unless granted in writing,” the mayor’s office stated.

Zabala said they couldn’t tell yet how long they intend to protest. He said if the permit expires, they can apply again as “permit is being issued day-by-day.”

He said he personally believes De Lima should speak with the INC and provide written and “concrete” assurance that she would correct the “shortcut steps” she had undertaken against its leaders.

He was referring to De Lima’s allegedly prioritizing the illegal detention case filed by expelled minister Isaias Samson Jr. against some top ministers of the INC.

Samson was expelled from the INC for allegedly causing division. He was expelled along with executive minister Eduardo Manalo’s brother Angel and his mother Tenny.

An advisory from the INC leadership obtained by The STAR stated that the original schedule of activities for tomorrow’s National Heroes’ Day has been scrapped and members have been instructed instead to proceed to EDSA.

More than 5,000 INC members have already assembled along the stretch of Metro Manila’s premier highway between the EDSA Shrine on Ortigas Avenue and Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City. Their presence has severely worsened traffic in the area.

Abalos told The STAR his office issued the permit after consultation with Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista.

“They (INC) wrote me and asked that they be given a permit. They said that they have been sabotaged and too much disinformation went around. That is why some of them gathered at the EDSA Shrine while others gathered at the White Plains area,” Abalos said.

Abalos said that based on the permit, the Shaw Crossing square was selected as point of gathering, with the Shaw flyover and underpass open to traffic to minimize congestion.

Abalos said the INC members have been permitted to occupy the Crossing square today.

Abalos said INC leaders in the area have assured him that protesters would not block the ramps of the flyover and the access to the EDSA-Shaw underpass.

He said there would be no more protest activities in the vicinity of the EDSA Shrine. “Traffic is light on Saturdays and Sundays anyway,” he said.

Mar’s reminder

Roxas reminded the INC that issues between some of its members and the DOJ should be resolved peacefully and not through violence or fomenting disorder.

“Let us remember that ours is a rule of law and not of men…As in all protest actions, preserving peace and order with maximum tolerance will be practiced by all responding policemen,” Roxas said.

“While all citizens have the right to be heard and to peaceful assembly, the exercise of these rights cannot impinge on the rights of others or cause inconvenience to anyone,” he said.

The DILG chief said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is duty-bound to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public.

Roxas said the PNP is also on guard against opportunists who might try to take advantage of the situation for vested intrest.

The DILG chief presided over a meeting with Abalos, Quezon City Mayor Bautista, PNP’s Marquez, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino and several other PNP officials.

“We respect the right of every individual to express his grievances. However, we need to ensure the welfare of the majority is protected. Every day, we have 2.5 million Filipinos using EDSA and the government has the responsibility to ensure their safety and welfare on their way to work and on their way back home,” Roxas explained.

“We have 17 million residents in Metro Manila, and these arteries should be kept open,” he said.

National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Supt. Joel Pagdilao has raised to full alert status the entire Metro Manila police force to ensure their readiness to respond to any untoward incident.

Angry netizens

Social media was abuzz over the past few days with rants from angry and frustrated motorists and commuters in Metro Manila who had to endure being stuck in traffic for several hours due to the INC gathering.

From Padre Faura, the INC protesters proceeded to EDSA near Ortigas Avenue then to Shaw Boulevard Friday night to continue their protest.

With traffic already heavy along EDSA, as it always is on Fridays, the gathering of the INC members along the highway only made the situation worse.

Angry motorists and commuters heading home after a long day’s work took to social media to air their sentiments about the actions of the members of the INC, which they said was inconsiderate to the thousands who just wanted to go home and get some rest.

Inevitably, frustrated netizens demanded answers from the government.

TV-5 journalist Jove Francisco, in his Facebook page Friday night, noted that the newsroom was “bombarded with questions” before the network’s evening newscast, specifically asking the stand of politicians on the protest action that was taking place along EDSA.

Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier said “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.”

He also called the gathering “an exercise of their right to assembly and free speech, which are also guaranteed under the Constitution.”

For Sen. Grace Poe, De Lima should clearly explain her side to the protesters.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. noted the right of the INC to stage a peaceful mass action to express their sentiments.

“The DOJ’s handling of the case leaves much to be desired. Instead of allowing the legal process to take its course, DOJ secretary Leila de Lima immediately held a press con to discuss the merits of the case,” he said. “This created the impression, rightly or wrongly, of undue interest in the case.”

Sen. Francis Escudero said “it may be prudent to first let the leadership of the INC resolve what appears to be a purely internal matter.”

Hashtag #DeLimaBringTheTruth on twitter supporting De Lima also trended worldwide.

“SOJ De Lima deserves our support & respect for pursuing the INCM human rights violators #,” said user Rigor Cruz with twitter handle @rigor.

Many of the users tweeted that the subject of the investigation are “crimes,” not INC’s faith.

Rome Travallo_@iRome19 said, “When I grow up, I want to be today’s DOJ secretary. Brave _#DeLimaBringTheTruth”

One of tweeters, Aileen Mesias, said: “Di nman faith ine-imbistigahan, kundi ang DI UMANO’Y ILLEGAL DETENTION done to a FORMER INC na di lang basta member _#DeLimaBringTheTruth.”

Charize Joy Longboen (@bread_charize) also criticized the protest for disrupting classes at the University of the Philippines: “Kung alam nyo lang po ang perwisyong inabot naming UP Manila students. Nag-cancel po ng pasok dahil sa sobrang ingay. _#DeLimaBringTheTruth”

The words EDSA Shrine also trended in the Philippines, with users reminding INC that the shrine is a prayer place for Catholics or those who believe in the Blessed Virgin Mary.

INC preaches against Catholic saints, including the Blessed Mother.

“INC gathering at EDSA shrine might be a wrong place to assemble, why not assemble at the central temple at Commonwealth it’s their temple,” said Rene S. Lazo (@RENESLAZO)

Gang Badoy, for her part, said: “INC members demand separation of church & state – flock to EDSA shrine – where there’s a bronze Virgin Mary statue by Virginia Ty Navarro.”

The shrine is under the “jurisdiction” of the Archdiocese of Manila. Anyone who wishes to protest there needs a permit, according to Peachy Yamsuan of archdiocese’s public information office. With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Aie Balagtas-See, Mike Frialde, Janvic Mateo


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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