Tuesday, February 28, 2012

News Update Major Philippine sect rallies as ties 'sour' with Aquino

MANILA (AFP) - More than 200,000 members of an influential Philippine religious sect met for rallies on Tuesday, police said, amid perceived political tension with its once staunch ally President Benigno Aquino.

Police shut major roads in Manila from midday (12am Singapore time) and deployed about 500 officers as tens of thousands of Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) members trooped to a seaside park in the capital.

The three million-strong sect is one of a handful of religious groups courted by politicians of all stripes during election campaigns for its massive block vote that gives it huge political clout.

Local media said Mr Aquino's previously strong ties with the sect have soured since Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona - who has indirect links to the Iglesia - was impeached in December, stirring condemnation from the group