Wednesday, September 2, 2015

INC Mess: Entangled Rights, Duties, and Interests

First, there were the RIGHTS: right to liberty and security; right to free speech and to a free press; right to freely exercise one’s religion; and right to peaceful assembly.

Then, there were the DUTIES: duty to enforce the law; duty not to impinge on the rights of others; duty not to inconvenience the public; duty to follow the instructions of church leaders; and duty to report the news relating to the incidents.

And lastly, there were the INTERESTS: public interest; government interests; INC interests; and the politicians’ interests.

In the exercise of free speech, INC Minister Isaias Samson and a blogger with the pseudonym Antonio Ebangelista published certain financial anomalies occurring in the church. Leaders in INC’s Sanggunian (Council) reacted by detaining Samson and his family against their will. The latter countered with a suit before the Department of Justice charging the INC leaders with serious illegal detention – a non-bailable offense.

Upon instructions of the church leaders and also in the exercise of peaceful assembly, INC members converged outside the gates of the DOJ building and later on at EDSA to protest the action of DOJ Secretary de Lima in recognizing the complaint of Samson and his family. They consider it interference in the internal affairs of the INC by the government, and that the principle of separation of church and state has been violated.

Meanwhile, the rally caused tremendous traffic and inconvenience to the public especially on their way home on a Friday. Injuries were also inflicted on at least two journalists covering the event.

INC expected to show force hoping to attract 500,000 demonstrators. The maximum number that showed up was about 20,000. Some groups who want to topple the Aquino presidency were there and were hoping to ride on the event. These “naysaying doom and gloom negativists” were hoping for another People Power courtesy of INC. They were disappointed.


There were varied reactions to this INC mess. Most prominent were the statements of presidential candidates. As we should know, the next president would be appointing during his tenure at least 11 justices of the Supreme Court – the last bastion for the protection of constitutional rights.

VP Binay: "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,"

Senator Grace Poe: “The INC members on the streets are just defending their belief.” Adding, "Nirerespeto natin 'yan at kailangan pangalagaan din ang kanilang karapatan."

Secretary Mar Roxas: "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. Lalo na yung mga kababayan nating pauwi sa kanilang mga tahanan para magpahinga at makasama ang kanilang mga pamilya," Adding, “The PNP is duty-bound to ensure that the safety and general welfare of the public is maintained. This includes making sure opportunists do not try to take advantage of the situation for personal ends. Let us remember that ours is a Rule of Law and not of men,"

Mayor Rod Duterte: “Of course I sympathize with her (DOJ Secretary de Lima),” Adding, “Although in the past, we had an exchange of words, those are days of work. She has a duty, I have mine.”

Senator Chiz Escudero: “ appears to be a purely internal’s like a family problem, family members should be allowed to settle the issue themselves”

Secretary Leila de Lima: “I am just doing my job.”

My barber and his friends are unanimous. They all think that based on their reactions, Binay and Escudero are, expectedly, “trapo” while Poe proved to be, disappointingly, a modern “traPOE”.  All were obviously “sucking up” – pandering to the INC and its block of votes.


In a survey conducted by the, the readers and net viewers were asked: “Who lost the most in the test of wills on Edsa over the weekend between the government and the Iglesia ni Cristo?”

As a responder, I was allowed to see the results as shown here:

1.         INC, because its show of force paralyzing Metro Manila, angered many citizens.  38.68% 
2.         Politicians like Poe, Binay, and Escudero who sought to accommodate the INC position in their statements.  33.15% 
3.         The government, because its maximum tolerance policy seemed weak and took four days to work.  22% 
4.         Metro Manila residents, because of the aggravation they suffered over the weekend.  6.17% 

The Biggest Losers

Indubitably, INC and politicians like Poe, Binay, and Escudero were the biggest losers. It became a case of which should prevail, the Rule of Law or the Rule of the Mob. Rule of Law because it tests the mantle and will of the government led by Secretary de Lima to enforce the law. Rule of the Mob because of INC’s tendency to disregard legitimate behavior by using its flock and block of voters’ perceived influence.

If Secretary de Lima continues to adhere to the Rule of Law by allowing the judicial process to run its course as she has been consistently doing, she would be a big winner in helping untangle this INC mess. 

If Secretary Roxas reacts similarly as he did in this case uniformly in espousing the “Daang Matuwid” line, he would also be considered a big winner.

Mayor Duterte who publicly expressed support for Secretary de Lima’s move despite their public disagreement is in fact, a winner!

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