INSIDE STORY: The end of the Iglesia ni Cristo protest


Why did the influential local church leave EDSA? The talk of dispersal, the lack of numbers, and division within the Iglesia Ni Cristo were factors, sources say.

MANILA, Philippines – On Sunday evening, August 30, at about dinner time, President Benigno Aquino III quietly convened some members of his Cabinet at Bahay Pangarap, his official residence.

It was the 4th night of a vigil-protest staged by the influential but recently fragmented Iglesia ni Cristo (INC). The night before, an estimated 5,000 followers gathered at the EDSA-Shaw intersection, roused and fired up by ministers and emcees who ridiculed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr.

"Hustisya!" they repeatedly cried, egged on by anti-administration Catholics and relatives of no less than the President – Jose "Peping" Cojuangco and his wife Margarita or "Tingting" – accompanied by another Aquino critic Pastor "Boy" Saycon. They called for justice in the name of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) cops who were mercilessly slain in the bloody Mamasapano incident in Maguindanao. 

On Sunday night, steady pouring rain failed to douse the spirit of Iglesia brethren whose number had swelled to 20,000 at their peak. The permit given to them by the Mandaluyong City government was extended until Monday morning, August 31, by which time they should clear EDSA – among the busiest thoroughfares in the National Capital Region (NCR).

There was talk of some opposition leaders making an appearance on EDSA. One of them reportedly declined, while another decided against it.

In Bahay Pangarap, the President was joined by the big guns from the country’s security sector to discuss “developments” in the INC protests.