UPDATE: Ex-Iglesia members behind California plane stunt – Zabala
FORMER Iglesia ni Cristo members were “seeking attention’’ when they unfurled a streamer from a plane as Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo led a dedication service in California, INC spokesperson Edwil Zabala said.
“The stunt you may be referring to is from a small group of ex-INC members who are desperate to get attention. And based on their message — it is clear who their leader is,’’ Zabala said in a statement.
The former INC members, collectively called INC Defenders, flew an airplane with the streamer over the INC church during the Manalo-led service in Bakersfield, California last Saturday.
Many INC members attending the event looked up and cheered thinking it was a welcome streamer for Manalo. But they soon realized it was not from their camp when they read the message on the streamer: “EVM unaware? Ask your mom & INC Defenders.”
“They resorted to using an airplane because they can’t come here, you see,” a female attendee remarked after seeing the streamer being towed by a small plane apparently hired by the INC Defenders.
“They’re afraid,” another female participant said.
More than 30 men in dark suits and wearing dark glasses and walkie-talkie ear pieces barricaded the venue. Many of them were checking out the cars passing in front of the church compound on Mount Vernon Avenue.
“We’re watching out for the INC Defenders,” said one of the men, who refused to identify himself, when the Inquirer asked him why they barricaded the venue.
This reporter and a colleague from a TV network were not allowed to enter the compound. Requests for interviews were also declined.
The Facebook page, “Support Ka Tenny and Ka Erdy’s Family – Restore the Church,” posted this after the incident:
“Message delivered! Now it’s on YOU, Ka Eduardo, to fulfill the commandments of God and HONOR YOUR MOTHER (Ephesians 6:1-4), so please talk to her! The brethren of the Church, especially our CWS, are looking up to your example!”
The apparent tight security at the event followed a recent clash between INC members and INC Defenders during a rally in front of the Fremont, California chapel, where Manalo led a church service.
INC Defenders posted a video on YouTube showing the commotion during Manalo’s Feb. 13 pastoral visit to Fremont.
They said the INC members disrupted their peaceful rally while supporters of the other camp described the INC Defenders’ rally as “persecution” and an assembly of “haters.”
Meanwhile, Zabala said the INC was thankful that another house of worship was added for its members in the US.
“We are also thankful that Brother Eduardo V. Manalo continues to conduct pastoral visitations to strengthen the spiritual life of INC members around the world,’’ he said.