Iglesia ni Cristo (INC, Church of Christ) insists that their colossal medical, relief, and evangelical mission held October 14 in Manila was not politically motivated.
Speculations and allegations circulated that the event was not for the purpose of evangelism and goodwill, but to show off their massive number as a force to reckoned with in terms of delivering political support and influence.
“Dahil hindi naman ito ang unang pagkakataon na ginanap ang ‘Kabayan Ko, Kapatid Ko,’ gaya ng nagdaang mga pagsasagawa namin nito sa ibang bahagi ng bansa, gayun na rin sa ibang bansa po, wala naman pong bumangon na ganoong impresyon doon sa mga kababayan (This is not the first time the ‘Kabayan Ko, Kapatid ko’ program was held, just like the programs in other parts of the country and even in countries overseas. Nothing stirred the same speculations with our fellow Filipinos there),” Bro. Edwil Zabala, INC’s Minister of Gospel, explained in an interview for GMA News TV’s morning news program ‘News To Go.’
“Sana po kalimutan na lamang po sa ganoong pag-iisip dahil wala namang ganoong layunin ang Iglesia ni Cristo (We hope we will just forget about such thoughts because the Church of Christ has no such intentions),” Zabala added.
The event required the cancellations of classes in all levels in Manila. The group was even issued a permit from the Office of the Mayor to close down major streets in the city, causing terrible traffic and build-up in nearby areas.
Some people even pointed out that intentionally political rallies like the recent “Million People March” could not even gather the support of that much people.
To expel such allegations, Zabala quoted a Biblical verse in his statement.
“‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself,’ which we can find recorded on Mark 12:31 and Mathew 22:37-39,” he read.
Some even questioned why the event was held at the start of the working week and not on a weekend, to which Zabala answered, “Gusto po sana namin na ganoon ang mangyari… Wala na po kaming pagkakataong gawin sa area na ito maliban sa araw na ito (That’s what we actually wanted to happen in the first place. However, we didn’t have another opportunity to use this venue other than today).”
“Bigyan ko po kayo ng halimbawa. Noong Sabado, nagsagawa po kami sa La Union. Noong Martes, nagsagawa kami sa Parañaque. Ngayon, naririto. Limang araw po mula ngayon, October 19, gagawin po ito sa San Francisco, California po. Sa October 26 po, gaganapin po ito sa Pangasinan. Dikit-dikit na po (I’ll give you an example. Last Saturday, we held the event in la Union. On Tuesday, we had the program in Parañaque. Now, we’re doing it here. On october 19, which is 5 days from now, we’ll have the same event in San Francisco, California. On October 26, we’ll have it in Pangasinan. It’s one after another.),” Zabala explained.
Despite the Minister’s explanation, veteran senator and Asia’s Iron Lady Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes that the event was INC’s way of sending a powerful message to the government and politicians.
“There is a message behind the INC event today. If you are a politician and you don’t get it, you are a fool,” Santiago said in her statement.
In the past elections, the INC group is known for endorsing political candidates to its devotees. The group has been known for supporting Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and current President Benigno Aquino III.
With reports from Amanda Fernandez and Andreo Calonzo