(Update) INC ends protest in Davao City

September 1, 2015 5:17 am 

DAVAO CITY, Aug. 31 — The supposed two-day mass action of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) ended 12 hours after it started at 9:00 p.m. Sunday.

Thousands arrived in droves in front of the Hall of Justice in Ecoland here for the Mindanao-wide rally to protest alleged special treatment of the complaint filed by an expelled minister who has accused church leaders of illegal detention and harassment.

On Sunday night, INC members of the 22 districts from as far as Zamboanga, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis provinces began massing up, prompting police to close Candelaria and Maya Streets in Ecoland to traffic. There were about 3,500 cars, buses, vans and trucks hired for their travel to Davao City.

But leaders ended their protests at about 9:00 a.m. Monday after receiving information that discussions were held between church leaders and government officials that led to understanding of issues being raised by the church. The INC in Davao was granted a Mayor’s Permit reportedly for a four-day protest rally.

Ka Allan Ladera, District Minister of Davao City – Davao West District, said they have chosen Davao City as their converging point to express their disappointment against the Department of Justice for alleged intrusion into church affairs, raising the issue on separation of church and state.

He said they have considered Davao City as peaceful, thus it was just right to hold a peaceful mass action.

“Ito’y isang mapayapang lugar. Mas maihahayag namin ng lubos ang mga hinaing namin sa gobyerno (This is a peaceful city. We can express more our discontent to the government),” Ladera said. He however, stressed that even if they have ended their protest they will continue to peacefully monitor developments for the attainment of their demands.

Ladera said the national headquarters decided for all members to return to their places after talks happened between the government and the INC.

“Ipinasya ng aming tagapamahalang pangkalahatan na kami ay lumisan ng payapa sa dakong ito at maging po sa Maynila sapagkat ibinigay po ang tamang pasya sa amin pong hinihiling sa gobyerno at ang totoo po ito ay para rin sa lahat ng sambayanang Pilipino (It was decided by our top leadership that we leave peacefully here and even in Manila because the right decision to our demand has been given by the government but this is all for Filipinos),” Ladera said.

“Isusulong pa rin naming ang magandang gawain (We will continue to do good),” he said in an interview. And on their return to their respective places, Ladera asked for prayers for a safe travel and guidance to attain their mission.

Ladera also thanked the local government of Davao City for the support they showed to them. He added that the INC only wants to see the respect that the DOJ shows on the separation of church and state.

Earlier, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte welcomed the INC members to Davao City. “Just don't make trouble and make sure you leave the rally area as clean as when you arrived," he told them.

The mayor emphasized the right to peaceful assembly as a guaranteed right in the Philippine Constitution. But he ordered police authorities to ensure that commuters are not bothered by the rallyists.

"Public assembly is a Constitutional right but making trouble is not," he said. Duterte said he has tapped police and Army officers who are members of the INC to act as coordinators to ensure that the rally is orderly and peaceful.

"The issues which brought them to Davao City to rally are none of my concern. They can rally as long as they want for as long as they don't create trouble," he said.

"Let them come. We're not worried. I'm sure they will buy something from our stores and our malls will be flooded by clients from the provinces," said Duterte.

DCPO spokesperson Milgrace Driz assessed that the mass action was held peacefully and orderly. She said that traffic rerouting was not implemented after the INC ended their activity early before traffic congestion could worsen.

Driz earlier disclosed that security, both mobile and beat patrol, have been provided at Ecoland area since Sunday night. She said police forces included the police personnel, who are members of the INC, to take charge of inner security.

Police officers assigned in Marilog, Toril, Calinan and Bunawan joined the Task Force Davao to identify the INC members along the checkpoints entering the city.

Driz said the Civil Management Team (CDM) was also on standby for any eventualities. (PNA)

LAP/LILIAN C. MELLEJOR/FUNNY PEARL A. GAJUNERA/LDP

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