INC sorry for Manila traffic mess; SC's Te clarifies tweet
MANILA - A spokesman of the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) sect apologized for the traffic mess that his group's evangelical event caused in Manila on Monday.
INC Minister Edwin Zabala, in an interview on ANC Top Story, said they are seeking the public's understanding.
"Dun sa mga nalungkot, nagalit dahil sila ay na-traffic, patuloy po kaming humihingi ng paumanhin sa kanila at ng pang-unawa," he said.
The event shut down the nation's capital.
Many people, including Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te, criticized the city government of Manila and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for what he believes was traffic mismanagement during the event.
May permit ba to? Isn't this a public assembly in non freedom parks? See BP 880.
— Theodore Te (@TedTe) October 13, 2013
"May permit ba to? Isn't this a public assembly in non freedom parks? See BP 880," Te said on Twitter, referring to Batas Pambansa 880, which regulates public assembly in the country.
The tarps attached to the jeeps and buses mention the name of the sect and a private foundation. Real parties in interest.
— Theodore Te (@TedTe) October 13, 2013
Te later said his statements were not directed at INC but at the city government of Manila and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
"I realize that my earlier tweets, described as rants, might have been construed as directed against the group that organized the event today that caused traffic. I bear no animus towards them or their event and while my words were passionate and strong they were not directed nor intended against them but against the traffic officials and the LGU involved," he said.
"The description 'madness' I used referred to the traffic situation I was in not to the event, the objectives nor the group holding the event. If feelings were offended I assure them it was not my intention to give offense and I offer my apology for the misunderstanding," Te added.
Zabala, meanwhile, said his group tried to find ways to minimize the negative impact of their gathering that drew hundreds of thousands of people.
"Pinilit po namin talagang humanap ng paraan para ma minimize iyung pag-occupy ng mga kalsada," he said.
"At sa naging pag-aaral po... talagang yung mga sites po na pinagsagawaan, iyun na po talaga ang maari na lang na puntahan sa palibot po ng Quiapo area," he addded.
"Ang hiniling po na serbisyo sa 'Kabayan Ko, Kapatid Ko' ay yung mga kabayan po natin sa Quiapo at sa paligid ng Quiapo. Pilipit po namin makipag-coordinate ng husto sa mga ahensiya po, upang makatuwang mapaayos po ang mga aktibidad," Zabala said.
The evangelical event included medical missions and distribution of relief goods.
'Political show of force'
Some saw the event as a political show of force.
There is a message behind the INC event today. If you are a politician and you don’t get it, you are a fool.
— Miriam Santiago (@senmiriam) October 14, 2013
"There is a message behind the INC event today. If you are a politician and you don't get it, you are a fool," Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said on Twitter. [LINK: www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/10/14/13/miriam-fool-if-you-dont-get-incs-message]
"Hindi sila lumitaw sa Ayala o sa Luneta, lumitaw sila ngayon on their own. The political statement is 'we are a force to reckon with,' obligado ang political groups to talk to them," said political analyst Ramon Casiple.
He said the venue of the event has politics written all over it.
"Overtime, nagkabati na si Erap at ang mga Manalo. That in itself is a political statement," he said.
Zabala has denied that the event was political.
He said their groups' medical, relief, and evangelical missions date to as far back as 1936.
Founded by Felix Manalo in 1914, the Iglesia ni Cristo exerts huge political influence in the Philippines despite being outnumbered by the country's more than 75 million Catholics.
Its followers are instructed to vote as a bloc, so politicians often seek their leaders' anointment during election season. - with reports from ANC, Agence France-Presse