Post mortem on the INC adventurism
It’s been a full week since the Iglesia Ni Cristo took over a major part of Edsa and most have moved on to more pressing and seemingly more important concerns, such as the horrible traffic jams that seem to become more monstrous with each passing day. But I do have a number of friends who are INC members and I have exchanged views with them on what happened. Most of them, unfortunately, have remained adamant about the rightness of the cause they were fighting for (although unable to articulate exactly what the cause was and therefore hid behind sweeping generalizations such as “separation of church and state,” “harassment,” “interference on an internal matter,” and “undue haste.” But one or two have kept an open mind and seemed receptive to the feedback I gave on what I thought caused the animosity towards the INC.
First, the resentment didn’t actually happen overnight. It had been building up for sometime now. It got more pronounced when the INC staged a series of mass actions designed to rally support for then Chief Justice Renato Corona. And then there were the series of major INC events that created bedlam such as the centennial celebration and the inauguration of the Philippine Arena, among others. In all of these, the INC has expected the Filipino people to accept and understand without question. We tried, but the continuing INC demands started to take its toll.
Second, the INC was unwilling to assume accountability for its political decisions, particularly on the critical role their bloc vote plays in selecting the country’s leaders. Many of the politicians the INC have enthroned in power are to blame for the mess the country found itself in, but the INC has refused to assume some measure of accountability. The INC has likewise interfered in the appointment of people to key positions and in many instances, this has resulted in a snafu. And yet the INC has refused to own up to its actions.
Third, the relationship between the INC and the Filipino people has not been built on mutual trust and consideration. It’s never been a two-way relationship. The rest of Philippine society accommodates the practices the INC imposes upon its members as part of its so-called doctrine. When INC members refuse to cooperate or join corporate activities, citing their “doctrine,” everyone else is more than willing to look the other way. Religious and civic leaders pay their respects to the INC during critical times, but the gesture has never been returned. In fact, even on occasions such as when the Pope was here, INC members gleefully bashed Catholics in their media stations.
Fourth, the INC has consistently flaunted their so-called influence. For a religious group that is supposed to champion moral and ethical practices, they have not been reticent about collecting political debts. If the INC truly endorses candidates on the basis of qualifications, then the political debt should be considered paid through exemplary programs and services rendered to the people.
Fifth, the INC has consistently maintained exclusivity—even claiming that when judgment day comes, only their members will be saved.
Sixth, the issue of corruption within the INC resonates with the Filipino people because, darn it, we want corruption in all its forms to be addressed.
Seventh, by going to Edsa, the INC members did not factor in the fact that mass assembly in that area holds a special meaning to Filipinos. By making parallelisms between their struggle and the two Edsa revolutions, they unwittingly ignited outrage. Edsa is hallowed ground to Filipinos and for it to be used for dubious political purposes was sacrilege.
Eight, what happened was a classic lesson on leadership and public relations crisis. On such a critical hour, visible, palpable, and inspiring leadership was badly needed; a clear explanation of the issues straight from the mouth of INC’s Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo would have spelled the difference.
Unfortunately, the masses who assembled were hardly articulate and quite frankly, prone to making acrobatic logical deductions.