Iglesia members end rally in Davao City

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 August) — On instructions from their national leadership, members of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) ended at around 10:00 a.m. on Monday their protest action in Davao City in support to thousands of fellow members who had been staging rallies at the Department of Justice in Manila and EDSA since Thursday last week.

INC members from across Mindanao left the area in front of the Benigno S. Aquino Hall of Justice on Candelaria St. in this city where they had gathered since Sunday evening.

Allan Ladera, a leader of INC-Davao West, told reporters Monday that they were ending the protest action after receiving word from their leadership in Manila that they and the government had reached an agreement.

Ladera said in Tagalog that government had decided in favor of INC’s demand.

“Ipinasya ng tagapamahalang pangkalahatan na kami po ay lumisan ng mapayapa sa dakong ito at maging sa Maynila sapagkat ibinagay na po ang tamang pasya sa amin pong hinihiling sa goberyno.”

He said INC secured a permit from the city mayor to hold a rally for three days.

INC rallies in the capital irked motorists and commuters for causing traffic jams.

“Walang ganitong peaceful rally na hindi tayo umani ng iba’t ibang kumento at reaksyon. Ang sa amin lang maraming salamat po,” (There had been no peaceful rallies that we didn’t draw comments and reactions. On our part, we just like to say thank you,” Ladera said.

He added it is the right of every Filipino to air out his grievances and exercise his right.

INC members, some of whom arrived in the city as early as 6 p.m. on Sunday, had started returning home on-board trucks, vans, and jeepneys at around 10 a.m. Monday.

Some occupied the sidewalks while waiting for the vehicles that would transport them back to their homes.

Edward Azucenas, of Sultan Kudarat, said he spent the night under a small waiting shed in front of Davao City Overland Transport Terminal while waiting for the 7a.m. rally.

He said he was informed that more INC members from different areas were arriving Monday morning even as the church had declared that rally had already ended.

Other members refused to give comment citing order from the church leadership.

“Dili na me mo-comment kay storya sa higher office (We don’t want to comment anymore because the higher office told us not to),” said a woman member.

INC members that filled the entire stretch of Candelaria Street came from 22 districts from all over Mindanao.

Senior Inspector Milgrace Driz told MindaNews the city police secured the area with 200 personnel and 100 additional forces from the Regional Public Safety Battalion.

The police forces assigned in Marilog, Toril, Calinan, and Bunawan districts were also dispatched to ensure the safety of the protesters.

In a video post (https://goo.gl/yqbcuL) on August 30, INC general evangelist Bro. Bienvenido C. Santiago said they and the government have indeed arrived to an agreement.

Santiago said both sides have explained their positions leading to a peaceful end to the protests that started on Thursday.

In a separate statement published on August 31, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said dialogue resolved the disagreement between the two parties.

“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 said.

He added the government appreciated the INC leadership for telling its members to end the protests in key areas of the country.

“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 said.

The protest actions came shortly after expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. filed before the DOJ an illegal detention case against INC leaders. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)