Grace Poe and INC

Inday Espina-Varona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2015 08:59 PM | Updated as of Aug 29 2015 04:59 AM

Let’s get this straight. Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) members have a right to protest. They have the right to voice out their grievances. If they want to mobilize a million people, they’re welcome to that.

But numbers do not make them right. Nor should these numbers – and the prospects for votes in 2016 – scramble the brains of politicians who ought to know better. (Though it may be too much to rely on their brains on the issue of INC; we do know that most of them grovel at the doors of that white building on Commonwealth hoping for the easy blessing of a bloc vote.)

The INC is wrong to frame its protest as a matter of defending religious beliefs. While I’m not impressed by the dissenters – who have yet to come out and expose their Church’s involvement in systemic corruption – they have raised serious allegations of abduction and grave threats to their families. There have been news reports of a Bicolano INC minister disappearing and then reappearing in a Cavite jail.

I am not judging the INC leaders. They are entitled to defense. But neither they nor their followers are entitled to command a halt to legal processes on criminal charges. And that is exactly what they are asking as they mass on Padre Faura and EDSA.

Vice President Jejomar Binay has said a lot in defense of the INC. The truth is, the government isn’t oppressing the INC leadership. Hell, the government pussy-footed for sometime even as desperate calls for help were being raised by the dissenters.

An internal leadership squabble is nobody’s business. But the tactics used in the struggle – including abduction and holding entire families hostage – is our business. We cannot shrug these off just because it’s an INC matter. As we shouldn’t shrug off serious human rights violations because the victims are militants and suspected communists.

(On the other hand, to jump on these cases simply because the villains are INC – and thus, not of our faith – isn’t the right attitude. And many of the comments on social media reflect religious bigotry rather than an actual concern for justice.)

Not that I have any illusions about Binay. But the younger Chiz Escudero and Grace Poe truly disappoint with their knee jerk reactions to the INC controversy.

I like Grace – probably more than any presidentiable. But in this she is wrong. Dead wrong.

Since when has belief that Mamasapano is important been an excuse to ignore other important cases? That is a line of reasoning exactly like the one used by Malacanang to justify the sloooooow pace of investigation into the pork cases.
You know, Grace, that in this country “priorities” are always used as an excuse to let friends go scot-free. Review the Freedom of Information bill and its fate under President Benigno Aquino III. You should know better than to fall for that trite and self-serving argument.

Hammer on the need to file charges against those involved in Mamasapano. And while you’re at it, why don’t you say something about the plight of lumads being hunted down on Mindanao’s mountains or the fact that their children are systematically being deprived of the right to education?

But do not sweep aside serious charges of rights violations against the INC leadership. This has nothing to do with religion – unless you want us to believe that oppression is acceptable when packaged as part of religious belief.

That was disappointing. Hoping you change your mind.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.