MANILA – The Malacañang Palace denied Iglesia Ni Cristo’s (INC) claims that the ‘extraordinary attention’ given on the criminal charges filed against the church’s Sanggunian was due to the religious group’s reluctance to support the administration’s candidate in next year’s national elections.
Although undisclosed, INC was apparently referring to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s preferred successor, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas.
“They were breaking the unity of the INC. When it became evident that the administration candidate would not get support, they looked for a way to break us,” INC member Ferdinand Topacio said, adding that this prompted the church’s protest last week.
The Malacañang, however, quickly denied INC’s claims and asserted that the government had no involvement in the ongoing division in the said church.
“[The administration] is firmly committed to upholding the rule of law without fear or favor, unfettered by political considerations,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.
“We reiterate that the government does not interfere in the internal affairs of any legitimate organization. We have conveyed to the INC that these are guiding principles informing all actions of government,” he added.
The Malacañang also assured that there will be no harassment in the case involving the INC council and that it will be treated the same way any other previous complaints were treated.
“The complaint filed by Mr. Isaias Samson Jr. will be treated like any other case and that we believe is the essence of fairness,” Coloma said.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, for her part, stressed that she was just fulfilling her duties as the head of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“My motive always is fealty to my sworn duty. I don’t have any other motive,” De Lima told reporters, adding that the DOJ will start the preliminary investigation on the charges filed against the INC’s Sanggunian.
“[We] are simply implementing the standard procedures in accordance with law and this is the same procedure followed by the NPS (National Prosecution Office) in processing all complaints submitted to its offices,” she explained.
Samson, who was an expelled minister and former editor-in-chief of Pasugo, filed charges of serious illegal detention, harassment and coercion against eight members of the Sanggunian’s 10-member administrative council.
He claimed that he and his family were prohibited from leaving their house while he was accused of being the writer behind “Antonio Ebanghelista,” a blogger who criticized INC.