Aquino slams ‘critical Christians’ in INC event

Paterno Esmaquel II
(UPDATED) 'I just want to remind them: If you are my fellow Christians, it is our duty to love each other in the name of the Lord, instead of sowing confusion'
IGLESIA'S GIFT. Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eduardo V Manalo (right) presents the first copy of the Philippine Arena Coffee Table Book to President Benigno Aquino III (left). Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler

BULACAN, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Benigno Aquino III slammed critical “fellow Christians” on Monday, July 21, during the inauguration of the 55,000-seater Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Aquino, who is now under fire over his controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), thanked INC members for their support, then turned to his critics.

Aquino said in his speech: “Mayroon pong iilan na anuman ang gawin ko, gaya ng pagdalo rito, ay maghahanap pa rin ng puwedeng ibatikos. Paalala ko lang sa kanila: Kung kapwa ko kayo Kristiyano, tungkulin nating magmahalan sa ngalan ng Panginoon, sa halip na maghasik ng agam-agam at ‘di pagkakaunawaan.”

(There are some who, no matter what I do, like attending this event, will always look for things to criticize. I just want to remind them: If you are my fellow Christians, it is our duty to love each other in the name of the Lord, instead of sowing confusion and misunderstanding.)

GUEST OF HONOR. President Benigno Aquino III delivers a speech during the inauguration of the Iglesia ni Cristo's Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler

Bilang mga tagasunod ng Panginoon, lagi sana tayong magtulungan sa pagtataguyod ng ikabubuti ng lahat. Lagi sana tayong maging bukal ng pag-asa at paglingap sa ating kapwa, lalo na sa mas nangangailangan,” he added.

(As followers of the Lord, I hope we will always help each other for the good of all. I hope we will always serve as springs of hope and compassion for our neighbors, especially those in need.)

(Watch Rappler’s video blog below)

Aquino said these a week after he got his lowest ratings for the first time in his 4-year presidency.

On Monday, leftist lawmakers also endorsed the first valid impeachment complaint against Aquino.

‘Mirrors INC’s victories’

INC CENTENNIAL. Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) members wave INC flags as INC Executive Minister Eduardo V Manalo arrives at the Philippine Arena. Photo by George Moya/Rappler
In the face of these problems, Aquino on Monday hailed the INC, which is known for its political influence.
During his speech, he praised the Philippine Arena, an P8.7-billion ($200-million) structure that was inaugurated in time for the INC’s centennial on Sunday, July 27. (READ: FAST FACTS: Iglesia ni Cristo’s Philippine Arena)
The arena “is the largest theater on the planet,” INC general auditor Glicerio Santos Jr said in a report by the INC-run Eagle News. (READ: Aquino, 50k INC members in ‘largest theater on Earth’)
Referring to the Philippine Arena, Aquino said, “Sinasalamin nito ang mga nakamit na tagumpay ng Iglesia sa nakaraang siglo.” (This mirrors the victories of the Church over the past century.)
DEVOUT FOLLOWERS. In the Iglesia ni Cristo, faith doesn't end in the chapel, President Benigno Aquino III says. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler
Observers see the Philippine Arena, after all, as a display of the INC’s clout in the country over the past century.
Since it was registered with the Philippine government on July 27, 1914, the INC has grown to a size of around 2.25 million members as of 2010 – close to Quezon City’s population of 2.7 million.
It was founded by Felix Manalo, a former Catholic who grew dissatisfied with the Catholic Church’s teachings and eventually began a new church in Sta Ana, Manila.
Members of the INC, whose English name is “Church of Christ,” vote as a bloc, and elect only those whom their leaders endorse. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.