MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – It's a sea of green, white, and red as Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) members wave hundreds of their official church flag in the air on the 4th day of their street vigil along EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard.
As of 5 pm on Sunday, August 30, Mandaluyong City police chief Senior Superintendent Tyrone Masigon said INC members gathered in EDSA are at 6,500.
They are beginning to spill over to the surrounding streets, where more members of the 101-year-old church are coming from provinces near Metro Manila.
Rosemarie Tagala, INC member from Rodriguez, Rizal, said she came to EDSA past lunch time on Sunday.
"Makikipagkaisa lang (To be in solidarity)," she said, as her 7- and 10-year-old sons sat beside her on the road. The kids stayed close to their mother as they observed the crowd in front of them.
A man who gave the name Yuri Gagarin from Trece Martires City in Cavite said two buses brought some barangay health workers who are members of the INC to EDSA.
He clarified they were not sent by the local government and only came to the metro out of their own beliefs.
"Sinusuportahan namin ang adhikain ng INC to separate politics and religion. 'Wag pakialaman ng estado ang relihiyon," he said.
(We support INC's push to separate politics and religion. The state shouldn't meddle with religion.)
INC members started their rally in front of the Department of Justice in Manila on Thursday afternoon, demanding that the government keep its hands off the illegal detention complaint filed by expelled minister Isaias Samson Jr against the leaders of the INC.
The 101-year-old church is facing its worst crisis in years, as INC insiders allege abduction and corruption within the church.
More and more handwritten placards bearing names of various cities and provinces in the country were being raised at the INC's street vigil, including Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Oriental Mindoro, Iloilo, Pampanga, and Cotabato City, Maguindanao.
There were also people coming from Pangasinan, Bicol Quezon, Abra, Mountain Province, Bulacan, Ilocos, Quirino, La Union, Benguet, and Cagayan.
"Handa na ba kayong mag-reunion?" screamed one of the program hosts on Sunday. (Are you ready for a reunion?)
He said buses of other INC brethren from the provinces were on their way, earning loud cheers from the EDSA crowd.
This was echoed by Ayan Basco from Cabuyao, Laguna, who went to the street vigil with 2 of his siblings and 2 of his children. "May darating po na galing Laguna. Mas marami po sila. Nauna lang po kami dito."
(There will be people coming from Laguna. It's a bigger contingent. We only arrived ahead of them.)
Rappler also learned that the INC plans to replicate the mass action in the Visayas and Mindanao – Rappler.com