2M expected in INC's prayer rally

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2012 06:51 PM | Updated as of Feb 28 2012 10:22 PM

It's a show of force for Corona, Cuevas, says church analyst

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - The influential religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) said there is no politics in its nationwide evangelical mission on Tuesday, but a political analyst believes it could be a show of force for Chief Justice Renato Corona, whose chief counsel in his impeachment trial, Serafin Cuevas, is also a lawyer of the INC.

UP Political Science Prof. Grace Jamon, a fellow of the Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture, said tomorrow's bible exposition is also meant to influence the senator-judges in favor of the impeached chief justice.

"[Ito'y] Para i-sway not only public opinion but also maybe the senators to support Corona. It is their way of trying to pressure maybe the members of the impeachment court who may be running in 2013," Jamon said.

She said it's hard to imagine that the INC's prayer rally on Tuesday is not linked to Corona's impeachment trial.

"Ang laki-laki nila [INC rally], at timing na timing sa mga nangyayari sa impeachment, so mahirap paniwalaan na yun ay hindi politically motivated," Jamon said.

In a statement, INC spokesman Bienvenido Santiago said it is not the first time that the group will hold such an event.

“The INC has been holding such gatherings in various places on a regular basis since the time of its first Executive Minister, Brother Felix Y. Manalo, who established the INC’s first congregation in the Philippines in 1914,” he said.

“This religious activity is one of the means by which the Church propagates the teachings of God in the Bible that members of the INC believe to be essential for man’s salvation,” he said.

Santiago said anyone, including President Benigno Aquino III, is welcome in the event. Aquino and the INC are reportedly at odds over some political decisions of the government.

Malacañang reiterated anew today there is nothing to worry about the INC’s congregation tomorrow.

The Philippine National Police said it expects around two million to troop to the Quirino Grandstand. The event will start at 5:00 p.m.

Around 500 policemen will be tasked to secure the area.

18 other venues for show of force

The INC’s grand evangelical mission will be simultaneously held in 18 other venues across the country:

Isabela Sports Complex, Isabela
Jose V. Yap Sports and Recreational Complex, San Jose, Tarlac
Gloria Town Plaza, Oriental Mindoro

Pili Freedom Sports Complex, Pili, Camarines Sur
La Union Natl High School Sports Complex, San Fernando City, La Union
Paglaum Sports Complex, Bacolod City

Cebu City Fuente Osmena
Tacloban City Convention Center
Pagadian City Gym, Zamboanga del Sur

Limketkai Center, CDO
Davao Agro-football Station, Davao City
Gensan City Gym

La Paz Plaza, Iloilo
Butuan City Sports Complex
Odiongan Sports Complex, Odiongan, Romblon

Puerto Princesa Coliseum, Palawan
Coron Gym, Palawan
Sta. Cruz Plaza, Sta Cruz, Marinduque.

INC is an influential group since it votes as one during elections. Its solid vote can help make candidates win in close races.

Joey Salgado, a spokesman for Vice-President Jejomar Binay, said the vice-president was invited to attend, but cannot make it due to a prior commitment. – with reports from Anthony Taberna, Apples Jalandoni, Ina Reformina ABS-CBN News; Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com