Some 500 members of the Iglesia Ni Kristo trooped to the EDSA shrine tonight as part of the continuing protest action of the Church against the so-called "preferential treatment" accorded by the Justice department to a dismissed former Church minister who accused his fellow Church officials of violating the law against illegal detention.
This action was reportedly sanctioned by the INK leadership, who, two days ago, bewailed Justice secretary Leila de Lima's acts, saying that the lady secretary gave preference to the criminal complaint instead of initiating criminal proceedings against perpetrators of the so-called Mamasapano massacre which resulted to the deaths of 44 SAF troopers, of which two were INK members.
The call was of course, rational. In the normal course of business, the usual practice was first in, first out. This is the normal standard operating procedure at the DOJ. The unusual haste is really suspicious to say the least.
EDSA shrine is not just a religious site--but through the years has become a political symbol, often described as this country's site for political intramurals. It was here when several members of the elite in connivance with cause-oriented groups converged and called for the resignation of former president Joseph Estrada. During the Arroyo regime, several attempts were made by anti-Arroyo groups to seize and take control of the shrine as a form of political protests, yet, were effectively repulsed by state authorities.
Edwin Zabala, the INK spokesperson denied that their action was some form of a bullying tactic against De Lima. Zabala says they are just expressing their right to express what they felt with what De Lima or the Aquino administration did to them.
INK members trooped to the DOJ Thursday in a show of protest against the alleged undue haste shown by the DOJ in accepting the illegal detention complaint filed by former INK minister Isaias Samson. Samson filed the complaint against several members of the INK leadership whom he accused of reportedly masterminding the crime of preventing him, his daughter and wife from exercising their rights of free movement.
An illegal detention charge is a non-bailable offense and carries with it a major punishment. If the prosecutor finds prima facie evidence of the crime, he can issue an arrest order immediately. Those accused cannot post bail.
If the Aquino administration mishandles this, the same way it did with the Manila hostage crisis and several other scandals, including Mamasapano, this could turn real ugly and deadly. How do you deal with a potentially explosive one such as this?
If, despite overwhelming evidence of the existence of proof, government backtracks and dismisses the case, the administration opens itself up for more attacks coming from other interest groups.
If it proceeds and encourages the filing of a criminal complaint and the courts issue the arrest warrant, how then, will state authorities implement such an order without the unnecessary loss of life? This case is reminiscent of the way US state troopers treated the Davidian sect in Texas which resulted to a terrible loss of life.
Unlike the Davidian sect, however, the INK is already a monolith of an organisation, which roots are already deeply entrenched in Philippine society and politics. It has withstood the test of time and has even survived several dangerous attempts against it from its traditional enemies.
As always, History has shown that in matters of religion and politics, Filipinos have shown uncanny passion in these two human inventions. When these two things fused together, the mix is as lethal as any other typhoon or natural disaster--it sweeps away thousands and leads to the destruction even of entire civilizations and even of modern societies.
This administration should very well be reminded of the lessons of the spring movement which sparked in the Middle East and of various other politico-religious revolts which sprang in numerous times all throughout the history of this country. In the past, clashes attended these events. I sure hope this do not go the way others did in the past.
This administration should be very careful this time. Proper handling by having the right mental awareness of the complexities of the issue and of a conscious consideration of the potential political implications of handling this issue should be topmost in the minds of this country's political leaders. Just a misstep could lead to an escalation and which could potentially turn into a very serious security matter.