MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Critics of President Benigno Aquino III, led by his uncle Jose "Peping" Cojuangco, joined the huge Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) vigil along the iconic EDSA highway Saturday, August 29.
Cojuangco briefly appeared onstage at around 8 pm on Saturday, and is set to speak later in the evening.
He called on Aquino in February to quit.
Pastor "Boy" Saycon, another critic of Aquino, also showed a graphic video of the Mamasapano incident that resulted in the death of 44 elite cops and several civilians. Many of the Iglesia members were seeing the video for the first time.
"Nasaan po ang hustisya? Sinong lalaban para sa kanila? (Where is justice? Who will fight for them?)" Saycon asked. To this, the crowd replied, "Hustisya, hustisya, hustisya (Justice, justice, justice!)
Cojuangco's wife, Margarita or "Tingting," spoke briefly during the INC protest-vigil before 10:30 pm, asking for justice for the slain members of the Special Action Force. She said some of them were her former students at the National Police Training Institute.
By past 9:30 pm, the expected arrival of Iglesia brethren from Bicol, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, Batangas and Pangasinan was announced.
The rally on EDSA-Shaw began late Friday evening, August 28, causing heavy traffic in the metropolis until past midnight on Saturday.
A day earlier, INC members staged another rally in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) building in Padre Faura, Manila, until they decided to move to EDSA.
During the rally on Saturday, former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) spokesman Eid Kabalu also delivered a message.
In his speech, Kabalu said Muslims in Mindanao send their sympathies to INC members because they can relate to persecution.
To a cheering crowd, Kabalu said, "Kung ang kalaban 'nyo ay injustice, kung ang kalaban 'nyo ay DOJ...kalaban din namin!" (If your enemy is injustice, if your enemy is the DOJ...that is also our enemy!)
"Uulitin ko po," he said. "'Yun pong kalaban ninyo ay kalaban namin!" (Let me repeat: Your enemy is our enemy!)
In an interview with reporters, Saycon said Aquino should call a closed-door meeting between the INC and the DOJ to settle the problem between them.
He added that he would give Aquino a "5 out of 10" for his performance as president. "He should now be a leader, and show leadership qualities by being hard and not soft on his people," Saycon said. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com.