MANILA - Several members of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) prevented Justice Secretary Leila de Lima from leaving the Department of Justice (DOJ) compound along Padre Faura in Manila Thursday afternoon.
About a thousand members of INC gathered outside the gate of the DOJ office and blocked De Lima's black SUV from leaving.
They were protesting that the government should respect the separation of the state and the church, and the freedom of religion of the INC.
They were holding a placard stating, "Mas maraming isyu ang dapat unahin. Huwag ang pakikialam sa amin."
They were also shouting, "SAF 44, bigyan ng katarungan!" pertaining to the troopers of the Special Action Force killed in the January 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
De Lima was then forced to go back inside the DOJ compound.
De Lima was later able to leave the DOJ compound via backdoor at around 5 p.m.
The protest of the INC members came after the filing of an illegal detention case by expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. against eight leaders of the religious sect.
Samson alleged that he and his family were held captive inside their home after he was accused of writing a blog that revealed corruption practices and other irregularities inside the church.
(READ: INC minister 'held captive' speaks out)
In an interview on radio dzMM, Samson appealed to the INC members protesting outside the DOJ office to let the rule of law prevail.
"Huwag po sana nating daanin sa init, at sa halip po ay gawin natin itong kaparaanan para malaman ang katotohonan. Dahil kung hahayaan natin na umusad ang katarungan, ang batas, makikita kung sino ang tunay na lumabag at may mga nilabag," he said.
"At sana po ay maunawaan ng mga kapatid sa Iglesia na yang ganyang gawain na kayo ay sinama pa riyan sa ganyan at magiging magulo ay nangangahulugan lang po na kayang-kaya nilang lumabag sa batas ng tao," he added. -- Report from Dexter Ganibe, dzMM