- Posted March 5, 2012 by
pasy city, ph
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
INC: Political leverage beneath the cloak of religion
The on-going impeachment trial of Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice (CJ) Renato C. Corona has become the center stage in the theatre of Philippine politics for the last several weeks. The daily proceedings have brought out the worst and the best in Senator Judges, Congressmen prosecutors and the Chief Magistrate’s defense counsels. The trial has been so ticklish and passionate; it triggered social and political polarization for or against the accused.
On February 28, 2012, an indigenous “religious group”, Iglesia Ni Cristo or INC which is sympathetic to the embattled Chief Justice tried to make its presence felt via its so-called Grand Evangelical Mission (GEM) at Luneta’s Quirino Grandstand in Manila. Although the “religious event” is open to everyone, formal invitations were served only to selected members of Impeachment Court and Supreme Court Justices to include the impeached CJ Corona who nevertheless did not attend.
On that date too, the prosecution panel headed by Representative Neil Tupaz unexpectedly announced before the Impeachment tribunal the dropping of the five (5) out of the total eight (8) articles of impeachment. The prosecution however has completed presenting evidences only on: Article 2 re alleged Non-disclosure of Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs); Article 3 for alleged violation of Judicial Ethics and; Article 7 for allegedly orchestrating the High Court’s issuance of a TRO aimed at nullifying the watch-list order earlier issued by Justice Secretary Liela Delima to prevent flight of ex-President Arroyo out of the country.
Whether the sudden twist in the impeachment trial of CJ Corona (whose lead defense counsel is former Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, a prominent INC member himself) was influenced by religious event or not, the Congressmen prosecutors and the Senator Judges have reason to take notice of the INC’s show of force. There were more or less two hundred thousand (200,000) participants (as per police estimate) who joined that one and a half (1½) hour of a vague “religious ceremony”. While the INC did not delve on politics during the program proper, some politicians involved in the impeachment trial could have possibly taken it (GEM) as a message of INC’s contrversial electoral clout which they perceive could make or break them during next year’s May election.
The INC has gained notoriety for being a political power broker as a consequence of its block voting scheme during elections. Allegedly, the one million or so registered voters (based on INC’s arguable statistics) used to follow the dictates of their church leader who chooses the candidates to vote for. Candidates are chosen on accounts of their inherent capacity to win based on latest surveys and political patronage/commitment to INC. Such kind of wily political machinations enable INC to oftentimes “have its cake and eat it too”.
Reliable sources on the other hand revealed that the fallout between INC (which is working for Corona’s acquittal) and Philippine President Noynoy Aquino (who wants Corona convicted) stemmed from the former’s inability to corner juicier positions for its members in government despite endorsing the latter’s candidacy during the last Presidential election. Furthermore, the recent unceremonious sacking of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula (a proud member of INC) by the President due to alleged cases of kidnapping and extortion is deemed by INC as adding insult to injury. Hence, the INC has virtually defined its belligerent position in this particular case.
Whatever would be the outcome of CJ Corona trial is for the impeachment court to finally decide. A negative people’s reaction though, towards the final resolution (whether for or against the accused) will test the political maturity of the Philippine political leaders. Notably too would be the spectacle of “spiritually self-destructive” game categorized as: “political leverage beneath the cloak of religion” which the INC used to play.