How Iglesia rally affected voters' views

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 01 2015 10:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 02 2015 08:18 PM

Iglesia Ni Cristo's five-day occupation of parts of EDSA gave voters a clearer view of how presidential aspirants stood on issues affecting the politically influential religious sect, a political analyst said.

“It revealed who these people really are,” Dr. Antonio Contreras of De La Salle University told ABS-CBN News.

Both Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Grace Poe came to the INC's defense, saying its members had the right to defend their faith.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas came out with what seemed as a more balanced opinion, saying the INC's right to peaceful assembly should not cause inconvenience to others.

“Honestly, while Grace Poe and Jojo Binay’s political capital got eroded by what happened, the political stock of Mar Roxas increased a bit,” Contreras said.

“I would not say dramatically because in the end, it always comes down also to what was the reason why INC threw a tantrum.”

Contreras added: “So if there's one winner here, it would be authenticity—authenticity of public figures. The search for authenticity is now even more enhanced because we've seen how people react in times like this.”

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, a leading figure in Roxas’ Liberal Party, described the Interior Secretary’s response to the INC protest as “sincere and truthful.”

“And I think the INC should appreciate that because there were others who were pandering to them without really getting into what the whole thing was about,” he said.

Citing the separation of church and state principle, INC members, upon orders of their leaders, took to the streets to protest the Department of Justice’s alleged meddling in the group’s internal affairs.

They also demanded the resignation of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. De Lima, who is eyeing a senatorial seat in next year’s elections, will be effectively resigned once she files her certificate of candidacy next month.

The DOJ is investigating a criminal complaint filed by former INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. against members of the INC’s governing council.

Roxas was also “trying hard not to offend the INC,” said Contreras, who cited the government’s “pandering” with the religious sect by issuing what seemed like “ unlimited rally permit.”

“It's a matter of withholding what the State should have done,” Contreras said.

“We are complaining about the traffic that was caused by the mobilization. We are complaining about the inconvenience. But who is it who is empowered to dispense with the privileges of giving a rally permit? It's the government. Who is in charge of keeping traffic? It's government.”