Over P1B bank loans for the Iglesia ni Cristo’s Philippine Arena?
MILLIONS IN LOANS? Documents show that key INC officials were signatories in loan agreements to fund the Ciudad de Victoria project, which includes the Philippine arena.
MANILA, Philippines – It was touted as a world-class structure fit to showcase the growing clout of homegrown Philippine church Iglesia ni Cristo (INC). On Wednesday, July 27, the influential church celebrates its 102nd year.
Two years ago in 2014, the Iglesia opened the Philippine Arena, the world’s largest indoor theater, to widespread attention: an P8.7-billion ($200 million) megastructure that served as the centerpiece of the sprawling 75-hectare Ciudad de Victoria complex in Bulacan.
Conceived, designed, and envisioned as a world-class stage for local and international events, the arena has played host to several events: from the INC’s centennial celebrations, to a concert by local celebrity tandem AlDub, and a performance by American pop superstar Katy Perry.
An expert on sociology of religion, Jayeel Cornelio said of the Iglesia ni Cristo in a previous interview that the Philippine Arena "is an establishment, is a marker, of what they (INC) are right now in the 21st century. They're not a religion in the Philippines. They're a religion in the world.”
Funds for the arena, the INC said, came from the donations of its members, a practice that aligns with the teachings of the church’s second executive minister, the late Eraño “Ka Erdy” Manalo.
In some of his messages to INC members, Ka Erdy had emphasized that the INC should spend within its means, and denounced the idea of the church incurring debts to fund its projects.
“Pagka mayroong ipagagawa ang Iglesia, tinitingnan muna namin ang kabang yaman, tinatanong ko muna ang may hawak ng pananalapi, kaya ba ng Iglesia? Nung ipagawa ang templo, wala kayong narinig, wala kaming isinerkular, ‘Mga kapatid, umabuloy kayo para doon sa ginagawang templo,’ hindi po,” he said.