The Aquino Administration and the leadership of the politically influential religious sect Iglesia ni Cristo agreed to create the Autonomous Region for Iglesia ni Manalo or ARI. The agreement was arrived at after hours of negotiations on Sunday night to resolve the protest rally by the sect’s members along EDSA.
INC general evangelist Bienvenido Santiago announced the creation of the autonomous region over church-owned television channel Net 25.
“This is the long term solution for our problems with the INC. The ARI will bring peace to our Nation by giving the INC the legal mandate to deal with their family problems,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing at Malacañang Palace.
The agreement for the creation of ARI was signed by President Benigno Aquino and the INC Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo.
According to the agreement, the capital of the INC autonomous region is the sect’s central temple and the surrounding 5 barangays in Quezon City. The Philippine Arena and 20 surrounding barangays in Bulacan, and all barangays in the Philippines with 51% of the population affiliated to the INC will be included in the ARI.
There are provisions in the agreement that gives ARI its own police, military, and coast guard. Separate Commission on Audit and Commission on Election will be created within ARI.
The agreement also guarantees that high-level positions will be reserved for INC members in the important government agencies like the DILG, DOJ, Bureau of Customs, BIR, and Defense Department.
“The ARI will bring peace and prosperity with our kapatid na Iglesia. At hindi lang po to para sa pakinabang ng INC ngunit para sa lahat. Hindi na tayo matratrapik sa EDSA at hindi na tayo maabala sa problemang pampamilya ng INC” President Aquino said in a statement.